Highland Woodworking Wood News Online, No. 166, June 2019Welcome to Highland Woodworking - Fine Tools & Education Learn more about Highland Woodworking View our current woodworking classes and seminars Woodworking articles and solutions Subscribe to Wood News
Women in Woodworking - Meet Alma Villalobos
By Char Miller-King
Atlanta, GA

This month's featured woodworker is Alma Villalobos of Pink Soul Studios in Chicagoland. She is a mom, a maker, and just happens to be another skilled craftsperson that I met during Workbenchcon at a meetup she organized a few months ago in Atlanta. Since the maker community is quite small, it can be a challenge to stand out; Alma has successfully managed to do just that. She has honed in on a few products that she is well-known for and has been called on by some of the best makers to create her one of a kind pieces. Alma doesn't shy away from the fact that she is a woman in a male dominated field; her work speaks for itself.

Like many others who stumble upon their love for making out of necessity, Alma has always been a maker. Before becoming a full-time maker she worked for Apple as a Lead Genius. Lead Geniuses are required to be experts in their specialty area and of course understanding of the technical aspects of Apple products. After leaving her job at Apple, Alma decided to stay at home with her son and that's when the real making began, "Originally, it was out of want. I wanted furniture that I couldn't justify spending the money on. And I just knew I could build it. I've always been handy and enjoyed learning how to use power tools. So I started making my own furniture."

Pink Soul Studios was born shortly thereafter. Her business name is near and dear to her heart as the logo includes an actual heart and is a translation of her full name, Alma Rosa. When translated from Spanish to English, it means Pink Soul. The crafty connection of words correlates with the decision to brand her business as Pink Soul Studios "because I felt it just sounded better and I also didn't want to be locked down to one thing."

Every maker has a zone where the magic happens, for Alma it is a combination of her two car garage and basement. Each area serves a unique function to produce the precision quality work she produces. When she first started out, the miter and table saws lived in her basement. As the business and interest began to grow many of the larger and louder tools went to the garage, along with her bandsaw and CNC. The basement is primarily used for finishing work now. "I think having a technology background got me interested in CNC machines, which I think has slowly become my specialty. I've made and sold customized push sticks and mallets. I think branding is really important for Makers."

Alma is best known for personalized custom push sticks and mallets which have been created for the likes of April Wilkerson, and last's months Wood News article feature, The Awesome Orange. Each push stick is masterfully created on her Iconic CNC. She feels as though she has come a long way in her craft and has coined the CNC as her specialty tool. On the flip side, one of her favorite tools is the Festool Track Saw,"it's one of those tools that I wish I knew about sooner.  It makes breaking down plywood so much easier and safer. Also, it's just really nice to be able to lay a track down on a line and have it be 100% accurate."

I asked Alma about Pink Soul Studios current status and what her plans were for the future. She recently finished a massive record storage cabinet commissioned project made from Purebond plywood and oak lumber from Owl Hardwood complete with full extension drawer slides from Accuride, and Rubio Monocoat's oil plus 2C in walnut. Each drawer has an adjustable track routed in the bottom to accept the CNC star knob Alma made to allow the "stop block" to be relocated to accommodate various amounts of records. In addition to the record cabinet, she is also working on several projects for her home, including rolling planter boxes and a murphy bed for her guest room.

As the maker movement expands around the world, we are seeing more and more maker spaces and DIY workhouses sprouting up. Alma sees Pink Soul Studios growing into a maker space where she can teach and engage with other like-minded makers. With a heavy presence on Instagram and a social, yet humble personality, she will definitely succeed with her goals. Alma concluded our interview with this advice, "Do your research first. Figure out what you want to make and find a YouTube video on it.  And then dive in.  Don't be afraid to ask for help. Buy the best tool that you can afford, quality tools will make your experience so much more enjoyable."

If you would like to learn more about this amazing maker, Alma Villalobos, you can visit her website at https://www.pinksoulstudios.com/ and follow her on Instagram @pinksoulstudios.

You can check out Char's website at https://www.thewoodenmaven.com/ and follow her on Instagram @woodenmaven.

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