Women in Woodworking - Meet Tahle Patton
By Andrea Ramsay
I am always excited to meet another woodworker who lives in my area. When that
woodworker is a teacher, an entrepreneur, a lifelong learner and my neighbor I wonder why we
haven't met before? This is what happened when I met Tahle Patton. Tahle runs her owns
custom woodworking business and teaches woodworking at Bellevue Community College.
Tahle had the good fortune of growing up in the Pacific Northwest and spent a lot of time in the
San Juan Islands, a strikingly beautiful archipelago in a little corner of the world. As a young
child she was first exposed to woodworking in her grandfather's shop on Orcas Island. Later in
her early 20's she moved back to the islands and had the opportunity to apprentice with a
luthier. She has always had an affinity for musical instruments, guitars especially, so this was
truly a dream. It was here where she fell in love with working with her hands and a lifelong
journey in craft began. She spent over a year on the island learning and growing her love of
This journey took on many forms for Tahle, one of them was ceramics. In life's true
serendipity, her passion for ceramics brought her to Mendocino, California the same year that The
Krenov School, formerly College of the Redwoods, Fine Furniture Program was opening. While
her focus remained on ceramics, the school made an impression and planted a seed that would
later grow to fruition.
Tahle became a high end hair stylist and worked for many years in this field. During this
time period she returned to woodworking, taking classes near her home in Seattle, Washington.
She worked her day job and slowly built a custom woodworking practice in her growing
basement woodshop. Under the tutelage of her teacher, Ross Day, a former student of the Fine
Furniture program at College of Redwoods in Fort Bragg, CA, she was exposed to the teachings
of James Krenov and other woodworking masters as well as their philosophies. Sixteen years
after seeing The Krenov School open, Tahle decided it was time for a life change. She applied
and was accepted into The Krenov School's 9-month intensive program. She quit her job and
moved to the Northern California coast. Here she learned from Krenov himself. This part of the
coastline is not unlike the San Juan Islands, filled with folks who forged their own way in the
spirit of the west. It is a rugged coastline where locals free-dive in bone chilling waters for
seafood delicacies. In this spirit she was challenged and changed.
She spent 9-months growing her skills as a woodworker. Under the teachings of Krenov,
her understanding of wood blossomed and her desire for mastery continued. She was
completely hooked. Krenov was a proponent of the hybrid approach to woodworking, using both
hand tools and machinery. He taught his students to have a reverence for wood, and felt
woodworking should not be dominance over the material but understanding, respect and
harmony. This philosophy guided Tahle and at the school she developed her own style.
Once she returned to the Northwest area, Tahle began her own woodworking business,
designing and building custom furniture. She now has a shared shop in the Wisteria
Woodworks building in Seattle, where she is inspired by her co-woodworkers passion and
commitment. She enjoys the balance of her own space in a community. Tahle also teaches at
Bellevue Community College, something that she has been doing for about three years. She
teaches everything from beginning tool usage to design/build classes. This inspires Tahle as
she is as much a designer as she is a woodworker.
Tahle discussed her dream of building out a shared space for all types of people and how one
builds a community of like minded woodworkers. As a female woodworker she feels that we
need to make ourselves as present as possible in the community, so that we are seen as solid
craft people, period, and and are thought of first as much as anyone else. There is still
sometimes a belief that we, as women, can handle smaller projects but not large scale work.
When I visited Tahle in her shop she was working on a personal side project, building a
guitar, her first in many years. She is exploring her roots, her passions and her connection to
her craft, her connection to the wood itself. You can find Tahle's work at her business website
http://www.grainlabdesign.com. I soon expect to see Tahle teaching a wooden hand plane class
at Pratt Fine Arts Center in Seattle, Washington. She is excited to continue sharing her
experience and specifically to teach others to make the cabinetmaker's violin, what Krenov called
the wooden handplane. I myself am ready to make a couple more of my own and to learn from Tahle.
Andrea Ramsay is a dedicated student of hand tool woodworking since attending Port Townsend School of Woodworking and completing their three month intensive program. She left the technology world in 2014 and is happy every day that she traded in her laptop for a chisel. She does commissioned work out of her shop in Seattle's Equinox Studios..
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Andrea can be reached directly via email at firstname.lastname@example.org and you can check out her website at www.andrearamsay.com and follow her on Instagram at @andrearrr.