In Ithaca, NY, there are two parts to Hammerstone: a carpentry school for women and a contracting business.
“As the school grows,” said founder Maria Klemperer Johnson, “I have growing need for teachers, but there aren’t that many woman carpenters and even fewer who are advanced enough to be good teachers. Plus I need a TA [teaching assistant]. I’m looking for people to step into those roles.
“If I didn’t have the carpentry business,” she continued, “it would be hard to go find someone to teach. Contracting is a continuation of the education model; I hire women for the crews, either my students or others…”
Klemperer Johnson had been thinking about teaching carpentry to woman, but in the winter of 2012-13 a friend proposed a project that crystallized the curriculum in her mind: build a tiny house.
Initially she only offered the classes on Saturdays, when she wasn’t working on contracting jobs. She taught in a three-side Morton building, which she described as a “one-and-a-half season barn.” Now she offers classes year round and holds them in Gordie Gallup’s barn at Silver Queen Farm during the colder months.
“Classes filled quickly,” she said, “so we expanded.” She starts her students out with a two-day basic skills course, which she offers once a month. At $300 it is the least expensive class she offers, and there is a constant demand for it.