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Madelaine Nelson

Kingston, ON.



Madelaine's cabinet and tarot boxes, shown below, are for sale. Please contact Madelaine for pricing and additional information.

Born and raised in Kingston Ontario, my interest in woodworking began at high school woodshop classes. After graduating high school, I attended University of Guelph where I went on exchange to Krakow, Poland and graduated with a BAH in Global Development. After living in Toronto and soaking up the art scene, I travelled through Europe for some time before returning home to Kingston. In Kingston, I bounced between restaurant jobs and office jobs, often unsatisfied creatively. I found a comfortable job that I enjoyed, and lived a happy life with my best friend and their family in a big old house by the water. Still searching for a creative outlet, I tried painting, knitting, sewing and just about any other accessible outlet I could think of. Dreaming of high school woodshop days, but feeling overwhelmed by a full-time school program, I tried my hand at upholstery while taking weekend courses over about a year. Eventually, I was ready to commit to a lifestyle change and applied to the Selkirk College Fine Woodworking program where I have finally met the creative challenge I’ve been looking for. I hope to get my Red Seal for cabinetmaking in the coming years. I will spend the summer in Nelson working part-time installing kitchens and millwork for a local company while developing my own business, ‘Empress Woodworks.’ I have found a way to continue to work with wood, creating small boxes with intricate marquetry, with only the few tools I have access to. As time goes on, I hope to build my own woodshop for larger-scale work. While I’m open to just about any form of cabinetry/joinery, I have taken a liking to veneer work and hope to continue working with that medium to create unique pieces.


I’ve always been a creative soul wandering around life trying to find my medium. From painting to upholstery I’ve tried to fill this void in my life for as long as I can remember. I have always been drawn to wood, furniture and physical spaces more than anything else but there is something terrifying about addressing your dreams – there is comfort in being able to say to yourself ‘if all else fails I still have this burning part of me I can explore.’ But if that failed then I would be lost and searching for direction and that terrified me more than anything else.  I’m not sure exactly what it was that pushed me to finally take that dream out of my back pocket and expose it to the world but when I did things started falling into place. The world opened up to me as I opened up to it. I stopped trying to desperately control every aspect of the world around me and found that life worked out. This is what woodworking is to me.

I now design and work knowing that things almost never go the way you plan them to. Taking the opportunities that present themselves in challenging moments is now a part of my work as much as it is part of my life. When I look at what I’ve built this year I see my own growth rather than the form of the design itself. I see all the parts of the final product that look nothing like how I imagined them and find comfort in still loving the outcome. I see the emotion turmoil that I went through in every piece and see the confidence in myself that resulted from persisting through. I see the wonderful result of all my errors despite the cursing, frustration and nights spent awake obsessing over details and mistakes. When I look at my work I see the pursuit of myself. This is what woodworking is to me.