Castle Workshop, woodworking teacher

Castle Workshop

Castle Workshop

location_on Nicholls Rivulet, Tasmania

local_activity classes: Woodworking

5.0 (10)

James Vaughan grew up on the leafy North Shore of Sydney and had a wonderful childhood tearing about the bush reserves and exploring the Lane Cove River as though it was the Amazon.

He attended UNSW in the early 1980s, where he received a Diploma of Education in Visual Art. He majored in Ceramics, with minors in Design & Textiles. He worked as an art teacher for several years and at the age of 26 moved to Hobart, Tasmania where he quickly became involved with the design community.

In the early 1990s, James formed a company with two other makers and created a range of cast aluminium furniture with a strong industrial, Steam Punk, look.

He secured a teaching position at The Friends’ School and in many ways was the architect of that emerging teaching space at this progressive Quaker school. For three consecutive years, students from his senior classes won the top creative award for their work across all the senior colleges in Tasmania.

During these years as a teacher, James spent much of his time driving to Tasmania’s West Coast and sourcing some of the state's most beautiful timber from local mills and salvagers.

His furniture practice very much mirrors his working life. Coming from a visual arts background, his design concerns are primarily sculptural. He draws tremendous inspiration from Architectural form and the wide range of materials and techniques he has spent so many years mastering. Hence his work oscillates from doing extraordinary building work to making unique furniture pieces, to teaching.

His furniture falls into one of two ‘camps’. The first is pragmatic, calm designs that aim to take advantage of the beautiful timber he has access to. The second area involves more creative pieces, typically using a combination of materials and often featuring an intentional ambiguity. Think furniture facades you can play with, or drawer fronts that become invisible when they are closed.

In 2005, James and his wife Kristen purchased 20 acres of fertile river-flat pasture in Nicholls Rivulet, 40 minutes south of Hobart. The property is surrounded by established eucalypt forest and has the rivulet weaving through its centre. He has spent years building a unique workspace and gallery, responding to and honouring the incredible surroundings.

This space is now open to the public! People can visit and take in a breathtakingly beautiful environment, learn the crafts of cabinetmaking and thanks to James’ 30 years of teaching experience, come away from a workshop with some very impressive, tangible results.





Colette Goyne Dec 2023

An excellent workshop and food provided by James.

I’ll go back again with one of my kids to do another project.

A great workshop and sighting the platypus in the creek just topped off the weekend.

Thanks heaps James.

Cheers, Neil Chappell

Justin Shaw Nov 2023

It was great. The teacher awash great, differently worth it and doing. Learnt all new skills

Rajat Aug 2023

An excellent workshop for beginners looking to dip their toe into the world of woodworking. James was accommodating, knowledgeable, and went above and beyond to ensure that we had a great half day experience.

Cathy Day Aug 2023

What a lovely personal introductory wood working experience. Delivered in aesthetic surroundings with a clearly spoken and welcoming delivery by Jim, the other workshop attendee and myself left with a beautiful board that I will use with pride. I was particularly pleased about how open Jim was to help with providing feet to my board which added such value to the piece I took home. Highly recommended.

Woodworking Workshop: Breadboard review by Cathy Day - Tasmania

Ruth Richardson Mar 2023

Just completed a beautiful stool to take home. Jim was a fabulous tutor - very patient! Well worth doing

Bronwen Puleston-Jones Feb 2023

This is not just a short woodworking course, it's an immersive experience in which Jim is your guide. He's a wonderful host, accompanying you in an incredibly crafted workshop, backlit by bucolic acreage from which you will emerge with a fine piece of furniture and the contented feeling of having been on a long holiday. Have you spent time with teachers who were chosen because they were good at what they did, but didn't have teaching skills? Or the flip side, a teacher who is good at teaching but doesn't have depth of experience in the subject matter? In Jim you will find both. He has clearly thought about how to present the materials and process in an organised and structured way so you understand procedure and principles to get the most from your weekend. You'll notice he has all fingers and appendages which is a great sign of safe practice! Any nervousness around unfamiliar equipment was put to rest with clear instructions and great tips about use. He was generous answering a myriad of questions and also fed me cups of tea, excellent cake and delicious lunches. I have the feeling I might have to book another weekend so I have a pair.

Jay McGlashan Sep 2022

Great workshop, nice company.

The project was really well thought out, and a lot of work went into helping achieve a great result in just two days.

The lunch and morning tea we're a perfect touch.

Simon Neil Jan 2022

This was such a great experience, from start to finish. James and Mark are warm, friendly and terrific teachers. The workshop itself is really something to behold and I felt very privileged to be able to work there. The class itself was fun and well-designed, and my wife and I both left with two beautiful bread-boards we are very proud of. We cannot recommend this experience enough, thank you again and can't wait to return!

Woodworking Workshop: Breadboard review by Simon Neil - Tasmania

Russell Dobie Dec 2021

Fantastic weekend! The teacher was welcoming and friendly; the materials were of high quality and the project well thought through; the end result was better than I'd hoped for.
Could do the whole weekend again already!

Paul Anderson Nov 2021

As a present I received a stool making workshop. A unique and fantastic experience. James is an excellent teacher who has carefully designed a weekend workshop which covers the construction from first principles. He has carefully thought out the process to make it possible to make a quality stool in the time. Throughout the construction process we learned a lot and had a great time making a solid and stable stool which looks amazing and is VERY comfortable. The beautiful location, great food and company were icing on the cake of an awesome weekend. What an amazing workshop. Thanks so much for the opportunity to learn in the way we did.

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