Celebrating Women Woodcrafters

First came the discovery of fire, then the invention of the wheel, and somewhere in the middle of it all came the design of furniture. On a functional level furniture has the ability to elevate survival to comfort. It offers us somewhere to sleep, somewhere to eat, and somewhere to enjoy a living space. But as technology, tools and experience advanced, furniture-making advanced too. It’s no longer just a functional solution to a practical need, it’s an expression of personal design style and taste.

The art of woodcraft has traditionally belonged to the world of men. Yet female furniture designers inspired some of the biggest global movements in the last two centuries, namely: Art Deco and modernism, among others. At Timbercity we love meeting all the creative craftsmen (and yes – craftswomen) who come into our stores for advice, cutting services and more. So we decided to take a look at what the female woodcraft scene was looking like in South Africa.

From the Maboneng Precinct in Johannesburg, Woodstock in Cape Town, and on many street corners thought the land, we find wood artisans creating impressive pieces. Katy Taplin, co-founder of Dokter and Misses, is a good example of such talent. Katy and her team develop furniture, lighting and interior solutions for private and corporate clients as well as educational institutions. Their work has been seen exhibited as far afield as Basel, Dubai, London, New York and Miami.

Durban-born Josie Hardy is another great example of feminine talent. Hardy comes from a long line of carpenters and she is continuing this family legacy with her furniture and homeware brand BANC.

Leoni Ferreira is another lady to watch, her studio, Know, creates striking furniture and decor accessories that are practical and beautiful. Leoni, together with her husband, handcrafts all items using mostly timber and cement to create everything from stools to pendant lights.


This is not to say that you have to own a successful company to qualify as a woman woodcrafter. Our country is filled with passionate hobbyists who are happiest with an idea, a sketch and a set of tools.


Melanie Kalis is a Cape Town based self-taught woodcrafter. Her first piece was a tomato box that she repurposed into a bookstand and herb trays. It was such a satisfying experience for Melanie that she has simply gone from one project to the next.

Timbercity caught up with this creative machine to ask why she likes to spend hours making something that she can easily buy. Her answer is simple, “I love the flow of creativity and the end results of something that I know I made.”

Melanie’s favourite piece to date is the bedroom headboard that she crafted from scratch. And if she doesn’t know how to make something? “I simply ask, research, watch and learn!”

We also asked Melanie how people typically react when they discover her “manly” skills, “The surprise factor is awesome,” she laughs.

“Especially when they discover you own a workbench and a tool box!”

By day, Melanie is a successful executive PA, but she harbours dreams of incorporating hand woodcraft as an office club with monthly meetings. Timbercity asked if she has any parting words of advice for up and coming woodcrafters? “Safety first! And don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Never be your own critic. Others will love what you make, too!”

Do you have a dream idea up your sleeve? Sketch it and talk to your nearest Timbercity team. After all, we are the ultimate project partner.

Pin It on Pinterest