She spent her childhood renovating her dolls house and playing with Plasticene. She went on to study three dimensional design for her B.A. and Ceramics and Glass at the R.C.A. while running her own prop making company for the fast paced world of special effects for TV and films.
In 1986 Alison moved to New York and worked as a staff designer for Tiffany and Co. While in the USA, she taught carpentry classes to women.
After returning to London, U.K., Alison became Senior Designer for Asprey during it’s relaunch and later worked to develop her own products for the gift market. She has worked as consultant designer to several independent museums and as Art Director/Costume Designer for a full length film shot in the monsoon in India.
In 2009, Alison started to teach Basic DIY skills, renting community halls to teach a successful ‘Tools for the terrified’ one-day workshop. In 2011, she co-authored ‘The Girl’s guide to DIY’, published in 6 languages by New Holland Press.
The Goodlife Centre has been styled and equipped to be the workshop of Alison’s dreams.
Besides creating beautiful objects at the centre, designing and leading workshops, Alison is the author of ‘The Natural History of Umbracula‘ – a quirky take on discarded umbrellas. She collects ephemera and vitally trivial knowledge about many things. Her patent anniversary blog can be found at Patent Du Jour. There is no rational explanation for her creation of The Good Lice Centre.
This is what Scott told us about himself:
‘Although I am a music technology graduate I have been yearning to get back to working with my hands on a daily basis.
Having grown up in rural Suffolk with a jack of all trades engineer father, my sister and I were never far away from a garage, shed or workshop with which to learn about various trades. I have a good working knowledge of plumbing, electronics, carpentry, motor mechanics, bicycle repair, gardening and general DIY. I have completed work experience in heating engineering, countryside management and have had paid work as a gardener, decorator and general handyman.’
Scott assists on many workshops and keeps the Goodlife Centre finely tuned.
Rachael’s father was an upholsterer so she grew up watching how furniture was transformed from sad to stunning under his trained hands. Later, Rachael formed her own career as a designer and maker for a large trimmings company before returning to the family trade.
Rachael is a highly experienced upholsterer and runs her own business. Her workshops are relaxed and confidence-building. We manage to persuade her to share her skills as often as we can.
Paul is a qualified electrician as well as a busy IT guy for a big company. He simplifies the mysteries of electrics and teaches with confidence in his inimitable Canadian accent.
Don’t get him started on ‘Robertson’ screw heads.
Kate trained as a furniture restorer at the prestigious West Dean college in Chichester. Kate restores the old and not so old furniture. She has been known to be locked in a company conference room removing imperfection from a custom made table.
She shares a nearby workshop with Simon Kidd and lives in Barnes with her husband and son.
Simon Kidd has been a cabinet maker for thirty years. He is constantly in demand as a high end designer maker. He is hard to pin down to a teaching date.
Simon lives in Soho with his wife and children.
Simon has his own website: www.simonkidd.co.uk
Andy Nicholl is a master of many skills. He has to be- he has run his own handyman service in South London for many years.
When he is not helping people fix things in their homes and volunteering to help local communities, Andy finds time to make furniture using traditional hand tools and methods.
David loves to relate to the wood he makes. He pointed out recently “There are two types of wood workers – The planner, and the person who starts with a feeling for a piece of wood. I am of the latter approach”
Besides being a whizz with traditional hand tools, David is a keen supporter of fixing and mending things instead of chucking and buying again.
He lives with his family in the Kent countryside.
Jan has been teaching for 10 years. She is passionate about her subject & enjoys passing on her knowledge & enthusiasm to her students through her teaching.
She holds a City & Guilds qualification in upholstery & also has a teaching qualification.
Her other passion is animals, amongst her collection she keeps 3 chickens, Tikka, Bhuna & Korma.
Ian is a City and Guilds trained craftsman who has taught for several years. He makes beautiful traditionally built fine lampshades for interior designers and high end shops. Some are sophisticated some are dramatic statements bejewelled with vintage adornments. All are hand stitched with precision so that they retain their shape and structure to give years of pleasure.
From an article in The Guardian in March 2012:
‘I’m known as ‘Barn the spoon’. For most of the year, I live in the woods and carve spoons from green wood with axes and knives. I’ve been doing woodwork my whole life. I love it. I knew that I wanted only to carve spoons, and that I wouldn’t have much money. Living in the woods was the only way I could do it and be in charge of my own life.’
Grace shares her experience in curtain making in a friendly and informative way that is welcoming to any beginner. Grace is an experienced needlewoman and we are very pleased that she has agreed to share her skills at The Goodlife Centre.
Stephen was born and brought up in Barbados where he became an award-winning sculptor in mahogany. He trained at Camberwell College of Arts and studied historic woodcarving at the City & Guilds of London Art School.
Wood carving can become a relaxing habit. If you would like to extend your learning, Stephen also teaches during the Spring and Autumn in Greece. Read more about that here.
Mary comes from a family of makers, and grew up watching her mother tailor, sew, silversmith and more. She is passionate about creativity and learning, and attracted to crafts that offer simple techniques that allow an individual’s creativity to flow.
Mary loves rug making because of its traditional simplicity and honesty, and the range of materials, colours, designs, textures and shapes it allows. It’s all about making unique, beautiful, feel good pieces…
After a previous life in the heady world of publishing, Polly headed towards the hands on world of Upholstery. Her fabulous furniture is sought after by dealers and shops as well as private clients. She is happy to answer all questions about her life and upholstery as novice enthusiasts are guided through the miraculous process of upholstered renovation.
Learn more about Polly’s furniture on her website: www.polliander.co.uk
Ben is a bespoke furniture maker and teacher. He has a relaxed and playful way of guiding the absolute beginner as they enjoy a day of tools and wood joints.
He has a BA (hons) in 3D Design and over decade of teaching experience, so we are delighted that he is bringing his experience to our woodwork courses.
Ben Rawlinson Bespoke Furniture was established in 2010. Learn more here www.benrawlinson.co.uk
Rebecca ran a successful refurbishment company in North London before realising she had the knack of demystifying DIY and decided to pass on these valuable skills.
A fully qualified painter/decorator and lecturer she enjoys the shear variety that teaching brings from meeting new people, exchanging ideas and observing those light bulb moments when someone makes a new connection.
In her spare time she enjoys working on her new allotment and practising yoga.
While everyone else is sharpening tools and fine tuning the practical workshops, Michelle is in the virtual trenches making sure the website she built is up to date, reminders, thanks yous and press releases she has written go out on time and that the all important back-end (ooh-er mrs!) of the business is organised so that the workshops aren’t burdened with paperwork and paper trails.
As well as spending as many days as possible on the ski slopes, she runs her own business and you can find more about her here: www.myoutsourcedmarketingteam.com