Life is a Journey

Hello everyone! My name is Rhea and I'm originally from Nova Scotia. I work in the film industry as an Assistant Editor - so it's long hours sitting or standing at a desk, staring at the computer screen, putting together shows. I enjoy my job a lot since there's a lot of creativity, but I often crave something more practical, a physical way to express myself.

me in stanley park.jpg

So when I found myself in-between contracts for a couple months, I started looking for courses on woodworking that I could do to fill my time. My interest in woodworking came from my Dad, who is a woodworking genius. He built our family home and a million other things over the course of his lifetime! I've always looked up to him for that and wanted to see what I could do if I put my mind to it. I didn't find any open woodworking courses, but I did find the Tools for Women Residency, so I thought I might as well apply for that! A few months later I got in, and I've had a wonderful journey with my fellow women makers!


For our courses, we did Wood Shop, CNC Router, Laser Cutter and Metal Shop. Each one was really interesting and it was so nice to learn all the options available to us for making things.

I wish I had had more time to utilize my membership, but the film industry hours just didn't allow it. I did manage to go in a few times though and my favourite thing I made were tiny earrings with the Laser Cutter.

It was really fun designing them in InkScape, and then bringing the file into MakerLabs and loading it into the Laser Cutter. After a few issues with VCarve, and a few adjustments, I pressed Start and off it went! 

Here is the video of the laser cutting the earrings out:

I was so happy with the cute little shapes the laser cutter helped me create :D
Then to finish them off, I went to Michael's and got the earring stands and backs, and some glue and paint. I painted some parts of each earring and then glued the backs on, and voila!

Overall I found this residency very fun and interesting, and it has definitely sparked my interest in making more things. I also feel comfortable and confident going into MakerLabs now to do my next project! I can't wait till I have some time to do something big! 

I don’t like loud noises

Ever since I was a young girl, I hated loud noises. It made me jump, feel very uncomfortable
and I was always on edge. As you can imagine, this doesn’t bode well for the fact that power
tools sometimes make loud noises. Anytime my partner used a power drill and it made that
ratchet noise, it made me want to leave the room and wait until he was done. And when I tried
to use the drill to make something myself, my anxiety levels went up 100x. I loved the idea of
making things but was scared to use the tools. Part of the issue was that I was scared the tools
could hurt me. During the 1st class of woodworking, we took our time understanding each tool
and practicing with it under supervision. After practicing with various wood working tools, I was getting more and more comfortable with the loud noises. I had to review the safety rules, remind myself of how to use the tool and just give myself a pep talk that things were going to be okay as long as I respect the tool.

My first project was to make a shelf for our pantry. It was a simple 45 degree cut with the mitre
saw. I stood in front of the mitre saw for 15 minutes. Finally, I asked another member to double
check my set up and away I went. I held my breath as I made the cut. And wah lah! I did it. I
was so happy. It was simple but I was so proud of myself. Since then, I walk up to the mitre saw
with much more confidence and I can make my cuts right away. No more pep talks, just good
old fashion work. This may seem like child’s play for some people but I am very proud of myself.

When you think you can’t do it, remember to take a deep breath and believe in yourself.

Will this ever work? CNC and Laser Machines

After the first week of taking the CNC workshop, another member from the Tools for Women
and I got together and attempted our first CNC session. We booked out an hour each for the
CNC machine. The good new was that we learned a lot about the CNC machine and programs
but the not so great news was that we didn’t end up making anything that first session. We were really excited about our 2nd attempt a few weeks later but once again, our 2 hour session
produced no actual cutting with the CNC machine. We were frustrated, discouraged and felt like we were failing at the CNC machine. WIth a bit more encouragement from each other and help from other members, we finally made something. It doesn’t look like much, but we did it. It was originally supposed to be a spoon holder with multiple pieces but we made one portion of it. We were just happy we made something. We were happy we didn’t give up. Now we will be better equipped for our next CNC machine session.


The laser machine started off as a familiar feeling. It was the same as the CNC machine- “what
am I doing?!” My notes got me through a few steps, but then I was stumped. Luckily the front
desk was so kind to give me pointers and help me through the process. After 45 minutes, I
finally made my first piece. It was a coaster. I was so happy once again; I even sent the picture
of what I made to 3 different people. Learning a new tool isn’t always easy but now I can see all the possibilities of what I can make at my fingertips. I encourage everyone that is entertaining the idea of learning how was use a new tool to just take the plunge. Ask yourself why and why not? You’ll be surprised what doors lay ahead and all the opportunities that you’ll face, so just do it!