Wood designer-maker Linda Fredheim

Wood designer-maker Linda Fredheim

About fifteen years ago I bought a little house that I was going to renovate but I could never find anyone to do things exactly as I wanted them.

I'd been used to doing craft work and sewing, weaving and embroidery that sort of thing and so I started doing woodwork courses at adult education and then gradually moved into woodwork at matriculation level.

While I was doing my matriculation course with all the seventeen year old boys, a lady who was at university down here as artist in residence came and gave a talk about her work. She was a furniture maker and I thought, ‘I could do that!'. So I went down and enrolled at the furniture design course at the University of Tasmania and that's basically how it started. The rest is history.

Linda's cabinets in the Wood Design Collection.
Linda's cabinets in the Wood Design Collection.

I've worked in a few different areas of design since I graduated. I've done some work designing for industry but what I really like doing is making cabinets. I love making drawers which is a bit crazy as they are so time consuming but I really love the process of opening and that everything isn't obvious from the outside of a piece of furniture and you have to actually open the drawer to interact with the piece.

I like to put things in my pieces so that you can see what the piece is used for which is why the little pieces in the Wood Design Collection have those keys and symbols in them. It's like the things that you have put in the cabinet leave an impression somehow.

I really love the process of cataloguing and storage. The way you can put things in different drawers and places.

Being a woman in this industry is sometimes annoying because people assume someone else has made your work. Other than that I never really let things stop me. I've always worked within my own capabilities. Sometimes people think that because you're a woman you can't do some things, and that's true, but I just do what I can do. What I find is that I tend to make smaller things because I can easily manage that size. I think the thing I lack is strength for lifting heavy pieces of furniture around, but apart from that everything else I can do.

I work a lot with myrtle. It's a beautiful timber to work with. I love the colour - it goes from a very very dark red to a pale pink. The grain is beautiful too and the myrtle trees themselves are lovely. I like to think I've turned a beautiful tree into something else beautiful.

I don't actually come from a family of wood workers, I come from a family of plumbers. I've got plumbers on both sides of my family, my grandfather and three of his brothers were plumbers and my father and my uncle as well. Plumbers everywhere!

My 'hobby' is being a physiotherapist. People always call it that because I do that less than making furniture. I really like the physio because I like getting out there and meeting people. Generally with physio we get really interesting people with interesting lives and jobs and I often find those people inspirational in some way. You hear a story that will lead on to thinking about something else.

The area I work in now is hand physiotherapy, which is good and bad. It's good because I get to make things, splints and bits and pieces which is lots of fun but one of the bad things is that we get quite a few people who have hurt their hands woodworking. So it always brings you back down to earth. When I talk to those people about what they were doing and using a certain machine I know exactly what they're talking about. So I find the two things mesh in quite nicely. Fortunately all my injuries have been quite small. A few weeks ago I tried to cut the end of my finger off but it appears to have mostly grown back now!

Email this maker: linda_f@austarnet.com.au


Wood designer-maker Peter Adams

Having the opportunity as a youngster to spend my summers in the forests and lakes of Northern Michigan I'm sure has affected what I'm doing right now. I remember being in the forest and playing with sticks, assembling them, and liking the feeling of being with the trees.

Wood designer-maker Mark Bishop

I'm a self-taught wood turner. That didn't satisfy me in some way, there was something missing. So I toddled off to the Canberra School of Art and spent a couple of years there doing a furniture-based wood course.

Wood designer-maker Peter Costello

I turned to furniture mid-career. I was actually trained as a musician and a high school teacher and I decided to do something else. I'd done a lot of building before and I suddenly decided to build stuff that I was going to sell instead of keep.

Wood designer-maker Stuart Houghton

I was born in Melbourne and I've been in Tasmania for about 14 years. I like Tasmania because I like the bush, I like the weather, I like the timber. It's a much more natural environment than the mainland. The landscape here is inspirational to my work.

Wood designer-maker Toby Muir-Wilson

My workshop is on part of the family farm and I've lived alongside it or near it all my life apart from the occasions where I've been studying or working overseas or interstate.

Wood designer-maker Kevin Perkins

I was born in Tasmania. My father was in the timber industry so I was always surrounded by stories of timber and things like that. I left school at 14 to do a trade in joinery. Prior to that I was more interested in making boats.

Wood designer-maker John Smith

I came to Australia in 1970 to take up a teaching position at the Tasmanian School of Art. We were probably some of the last of the Ten Pound Poms. I was very keen after going through college in the UK to travel overseas and try other cultures.

Wood designer-maker Marcus Tatton

I remember carving when I was about 8. I used to steal my mum's lino carving tools. I was able to go down to the workshop in the garage and carve away. I think the first thing I came up with was an acanthus leaf. I was really pleased with that.