A talented woodworker found his ideal workspace — and home — in Foxboro’s former Paine School.
Jesse Shaw, 41, a furniture craftsman who moved to Foxboro last June, said he was immediately drawn to the schoolhouse due to its one-of-a-kind architecture and excellent shop space.
“With its rich history, and after much consideration, we made the decision to make it our own. The wooden front side now serves as a cozy and charming home for my family, while the brick stone back side is in the process of being transformed into a magnificent woodworking studio for my business to thrive and grow,” Shaw said.
Shaw is no stranger to woodworking and furniture design. He began his career at the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship in Rockport, Maine, in 2005, where he was awarded a fellowship upon graduating that enabled him to hone his woodworking skills under the tutelage of master craftsmen.
He attended design school at the Savannah College of Art and Design and was selected to study with notable furniture designers in Milan, Italy. Soon after, he became the lead furniture designer for Currey & Company in Atlanta, Ga.
His job was to design 150 pieces a year and manage those designs in 15 factories internationally, which exposed him to many fascinating manufacturing processes and techniques.
Shaw’s passion is working with wood and building finely crafted pieces of furniture and wood lighting.
“Two of the things I love doing most are steam bending and illuminating wood. Not all woods are translucent, but the ones that are able to light up, glow in the most brilliant colors. Each tree species has its own distinct hue of color. It’s like finding a hidden beauty within the wood,” Shaw said.
Along with his passion for woodworking, he has hobbies such as making music, planting trees, chess, and making YouTube woodworking videos.
Along with keeping up with career he is spending time remodeling the school house which, at times, presents its own challenges. For example, last summer, Shaw was repairing drywall and the spider web of cracks in the ceiling of the shop and then needed to paint the entire space. Some days were 90 to 100 degrees and he was covered head to toe in a paint suit spraying the walls, ceilings, lights, and windows.
“I had thoughts about stopping, but if you keep your head down and just focus on the work, eventually it all gets done. Now I look at the space and I’m amazed I was able to do it all on my own. The shop looks exactly how I wanted it to and I can barely remember what it used to look like. To me, the most fun part of remodeling is knowing that you can build anything your mind can create,” Shaw said.
Shaw said his short-term goals over the next year are to restore the schoolhouse and get the wood shop operational.
“Some projects on the list this year are building a new deck, replacing stair treads, and building a granite and cedar fence,” Shaw said.
Long-term, in the next three to five years, Shaw plans to pitch the brick side roof, lay down a new solid wood floor, add heat to the brick side, and install solar panels.
“I also plan to offer woodworking classes and build a woodworking community here,” Shaw said.
In the past, Shaw dabbled in teaching woodworking classes on the side during his time living in Boston. At one point, he even contemplated making it his main profession alongside his position at Tufts Museum School.
However, his passion for the craft runs so deep that Shaw is now fully devoted to the art of building and bringing his unique designs to life.
He hopes to start offering woodworking classes for both beginners and in advanced techniques like steam bending and marquetry.
“I think that he is very inspiring,” his wife Audrey Battista said. “He has both a design and woodwork background which makes his work very unique. He can just look at a room like when we look at this house he can see the potential in it,” Battista said.
Her favorite piece is the Prometheus lamp.
“Because it is so stunning, unique, and very special. I’ve never seen anything like that before. I think his potential is creating unique pieces as well as sharing the process of how to do them,” Battista said.
To learn more visit: JShawFurniture.com