The Maine Department of Corrections has recognized the first anniversary of the Fine Craftsmanship Program. In late August 2012, master craftsman Brian Reid of Rockland, under sponsorship of the New Hampshire Institute of Furniture Making, brought the program to the Maine State Prison Industries Program.

Lead instructor Reid shares weekly Sunday class duties with fellow instructors, Dylan Fuller and Howard Hatch. The Fine Craftsmanship Program launched this special program with 10 selected prisoner students. Reid modeled the curriculum on the program he teaches at the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship in Rockport.

The educational program teaches all aspects of fine woodworking including the intricate details of hand-cut dovetails; mortise-and-tenon joinery; and sanding and hand finishing techniques. An important goal is to be a self-sustaining program, where current prisoner students learn skills they pass on to the next group of prisoner students in “train the trainer” fashion. Class meets every Sunday. Students are learning to build cabinets, tables, chairs, chests, as well as contemporary product design. So far, all program objectives are being exceeded.

The class curriculum includes the use of hand and power tools; understanding wood as a living material; understanding mechanical structure through joinery and adhesives; understanding design; and design history. Benefits of learning this true craftsmanship are the development of transferrable life skills such as patience, reflection, logic, geometry, problem solving, strategizing, creative thinking and self-confidence.

Revenues from product sales are used to offset the program operational expenses, which helps to keep this a self-sufficient industries program. Selected fine handcrafted program products are available for viewing and purchase at The Gallery at Somes Sound, 1112 Main St., Somesville. Owner and operator Tyra Hanson is graciously providing valuable space to further sponsor the craftsmanship program. Other craftsmanship program products are available at the historic Maine State Prison Showroom, 358 Main St./Route 1, Thomaston.

Courier Publications’ A&E Editor Dagney C. Ernest can be reached at (207) 594-4401, ext. 115; or dernest@courierpublicationsllc.com.