Dangerous Dads Build a Table for Chrysalis

Words by Felix Carey

With this project, Ian, the coordinator of the Dangerous Dads group - a group offering activities for fathers and their children in South Devon - suggested that woodwork and carpentry workshops would go down very well with the fathers and children in the South Hams area. He was absolutely right!

The brief chosen for the DD (Dangerous Dads) was to make a dining table at the heart of Chrysalis. We decided to run two full-day workshops open to anyone who had been involved with the Dangerous Dads in the past. 

Ian (left) the coordinator of the Dangerous Dads group who offer activities for fathers and their children in South Devon, with Encounters artist Felix Carey. 

There would be a range of ages coming to take part in the creation of the table so I needed to make sure carpentry in the project was accessible to both adults and children. Because of this, I decided to focus on just making the tabletop, but a tabletop that you would not forget. I wanted participants to be able to leave something personal within it, so each person could embark on a creative endeavour.

Keeping to the ecological principles of Encounters and Chrysalis I wanted to use predominantly recycled materials within the project. As a way of expanding on the participant's involvement and the creative voice I invited the Dangerous Dad’s to bring old and once loved pieces of wood to the workshop to act as building materials for the project. 

On the first workshop 7 adults and 8 children came at 10 o’clock to our workshop at the Woodland Yard in Dartington. With them they brought everything from a drum kit to old chair legs and small wooden ornaments. We kept these all to one side as they would come in handy in the next workshop.

Once everyone had arrived they proceeded to sand and cut to length old pallets to make the surface of their table. Using templates they created patterns out of the pallet wood they had just salvaged.



The Making of Chrysalis

Chrysalis was a mobile arts, culture and learning space made in 2018 - 2019 by the hands and imagination of people living or working in the Bio-Region of South Devon.

Everyone who attended the day got involved in learning how to use the tools and building the table! 

By the end of the day, adults and children had worked together to create the main structure and base to the table. One grandfather said, “I have been wanting to do something like this with my grandchildren for such a long time, I can’t believe we found you!” Another dad said, “Thank you for this, I have wanted to create special memories for my children and I think this has done just that.”

In the week before workshop number 2, I processed the special pieces of wood brought in by participants so they were all a uniform thickness so they could fit into the table.

The next workshop we had 4 adults and 6 children. They all spent the morning creating compositions with the special pieces of wood. They then used jig saws to cut them in.

This was a beautiful process of transformation. The table legs and other wooden ornaments cut striking shapes across the patterns made by the pallet wood. This was met by a lot of excitement from the children in particular who wanted to show off what they had had a hand in making.

Using templates the group created patterns out of the pallet wood they had just salvaged.

“I have been wanting to do something like this with my grandchildren for such a long time, I can’t believe we found you!”

One of the Grandfathers who attended

Just some of the Dads, Grandads and male carers who attended with their children.

The lay out of the special pieces of wood was chosen and then cut into the table and finally sealed with resin.

I couldn’t be happier with this project as the participants felt that they had a true creative voice within the final product, and all ages and abilities were able to learn and work alongside each other.

The final table being admired by its makers.