Yaffe Mays is the partnership of Rebecca Yaffe and Laura Mays, established in 2005.
There are also pieces on the website made by one or other of us before we formed the partnership.

News of what we're doing currently is available on our Facebook page and/or Laura's Instagram.

We are craftspeople. Having said that, craft is notoriously difficult to define. It is, as David Pye wrote, 'a word to start an argument with.'

For us, craft means:
- keeping it small. We're not trying to be a bigger business than we are.
- keeping it local (and therefore more likely to be sustainable).
- using skill, technique, knowledge of materials, and care to make functional things.
- using archetypes or 'patterns' from the past, but avoiding nostalgia or pastiche.

We use hardwoods locally grown and processed (planked and dried) when possible. In Ireland that meant oak, ash, walnut, a little cherry, elm, sycamore. In California it means primarily madrone, tan oak and Claro walnut.

Whitethorn Hardwoods
Almquist Lumber

Lisnavagh Timber Project.
Kiln Dried Hardwoods.

We use wax, oil and shellac as finishes, hand-applied. In addition to the difference in the material of the finish itself, there is a visual difference between a hand-applied finish and a spray finish. Hand-applying means rubbing the wood, which gives it a burnished quality which cannot be replicated by machine. Also, it is impossible to rub into the corners of the object in the same way and to the same extent as on the larger flat surfaces, so the finish is not entirely even – it has the diversity that David Pye (1995) speaks of in relation to craft. One of the paradoxes of craft is that a craftsperson attempts to use as much skill, care, time and attention as necessary to get the work right - in this case, an even finish - and yet one of the values of craft is an indication of the humanity of the maker, their fallibility and inability to attain perfection. And so we relish that paradox, striving to do our best, but acknowledging that we will never attain any form of perfection.

We use traditional woodworking joinery - mortice and tenons, dovetails, and so on. These joints were developed before synthetic glues - the joints had to be mechanically strong and not rely on glue to stay together. Often we use through joinery, where you can see the joinery rather than it being hidden within the components. Through or exposed joinery differentiates a crafted piece from a mass-produced piece, because it takes skill and attention to get the joint fitting well.

Rebecca has a BA from Smith College Ma, followed by two years in the Fine Woodworking program at College of the Redwoods in California. She is now training to become a hospice nurse in addition to a woodworker.

Laura has a degree in Architecture from University College Dublin and a Higher Certificate in Furniture Design and Manufacture from GMIT Letterfrack. She followed that with two years on the Fine Woodworking program in College of the Redwoods in California. She completed an MA in Industrial Design (subject: Craft, meaning and value) at the National College of Art and Design in Dublin in 2010. She was a lecturer in Furniture Design and Manufacture at GMIT Letterfrack from 2004 to 2011. Since 2011 she has been the Program Director of the Fine Woodworking program at the College of the Redwoods in northern California. She is the founding President of The Krenov Foundation, a non-profit organization whose mission is to support the craft of fine woodworking in northern California, by conducting educational programs and providing material and financial support to individuals and institutions in that field.

Laura's CV can be downloaded here.

From 2005-2011 the workshop was in Connemara, a loosely defined region of County Galway. More specifically it was in Salruck (sometimes spelt Salrock), at the inner end of Little Killary Bay, and presided over by Mweelrea mountain across the (big) Killary.

Salruck sometime between 1880 and 1914.
From the Lawrence Collection, National Library of Ireland.

Salruck 9 January 2011.

In Fort Bragg California, we are sharing a workshop with Brian Newell, or to be more exact, renting space in his workshop. It is a fantastic space, well-equipped, well-lit, good company - we're very lucky.