Paula Garbarino CA ’80, CF ’88

October 6, 2017

Paula Garbarino CA '80, CF '88

I was a maker from childhood, creating miniature houses and furniture, needlecraft, beads, pottery and stained glass. I can’t conceive of my life without handwork to do. The training in both the carpentry and furniture-making programs provided the opportunity to work and excel in areas I wouldn’t previously (as a woman) have dreamed possible.

Essential in the nature of the human being is the drive to be a maker. Early humans made tools to hunt, to farm, to build shelter, to make useful things and the urge to decorate them. From trial and error the very best ways of making were developed based on the attributes of available materials and the vast capability of the human hand. Skill was developed and passed on. Industrialization added new capability but it also contributed to the depletion of the human element and the aspects of making that require precise skills. Long standing skills were lost.

In my lifetime, I’ve seen an impressive growth in hobby-oriented handcraft (publications, stores, TV shows) while, at the same time, institutions that preserve traditional skills have died. Across the country, technical training at all levels has decreased and often disappeared. It is sad to think how many people are deprived of the pleasure of manual training.

“I’m still awake to the miracle that I can make a living at what I love to do.”

Iris Water CabinetI’ve said it for years (and heard it from many others) that the time spent at NBSS was the best in my life. I continue to visit the school… always leaving stimulated and inspired by the student work and impressed with how much the organization does to validate hand-skill training.

After graduating, I established a business. I’ve worked with crews to build two houses, built several kitchens and more than one hundred pieces of furniture. The financial road has been bumpy, but for the last dozen years I have made it a priority to make a financial contribution to North Bennet Street School – a very special place.