Derek Calderwood – 2023 Sunshine Coast Wootha Prize overall Winner

In 2023 Derek Calderwood won overall First Prize in the Sunshine Coast Wootha Prize for his elegant piece ‘Lautissimum’. A largely self-taught woodworker, the win came as a delightful surprise to Derek. He humbly shares a bit about his journey and what he has been up to since the 2023 Maleny Wood Expo.

How did you get into woodworking? 

I purchased an old stanley hand plane at a garage sale about 8 years ago. The last time I had done any woodwork was in high school manual arts. 

I found that I enjoyed using that plane so much that maybe I should give making a piece of furniture a go. 

With the help of youtube and some good books, I built my first piece of furniture, a coffee table in late 2018 and things have just gone from there. 

I am in the process of very slowly furnishing our house with handmade pieces whilst developing my skills and techniques as a woodworker. 

How did it feel to win the overall Sunshine Coast Wootha Prize this year at the 2023 Maleny Wood Expo? 

It was an honour to get shortlisted to have my piece displayed, and then a massive surprise when it was selected for the Sunshine Coast Wootha Prize. I definitely had (and still have) a case of imposter syndrome. But the whole experience was brilliant. 

The Wootha Prize competition and Maleny Wood Expo’s focus on sustainability makes it a really special event and over the weekend I met so many interesting people and saw so many interesting things. I’m very thankful for the experience and will definitely be back. 

What have you been up to since you won? 

I have continued to make pieces for my house. My last piece was a record player console / entertainment unit which is a real joy to use. 

What advice would you like to offer to people thinking about entering the Sunshine Coast Wootha Prize? 

Firstly – as the saying goes “you have to be in it to win it” …I didn’t enter with any expectations but rather saw it as a chance to share my work with others. 

The only other advice would be to get the finishing touches done. The sideboard that I entered had been in use in our home for about 6 months before the Maleny Wood Expo. Prior to dropping it off I finally got around to replacing the temporary plywood back panel with a solid frame and panel back. This had no impact on the function of the piece but properly finished it off and no doubt, those finishing details made a difference. 

How can people follow your work? 

I share some of my work on instagram @derek_calderwood 

Whilst I have still got a healthy list of orders for my own home please feel free to get in touch if you want to discuss commissioning a special piece of furniture for your home.

About the piece

‘Lautissimum’ is a sideboard made from Queensland Maple (150cm wide, 46cm deep, 90cm high). Mid century inspired, the piece is designed for function with sliding doors to minimise depth and solid timber for strength and beauty. 

The cabinet carcass is made from a single, resawn and bookmatched board of quartersawn stock. The cabinet features sliding doors with figured maple panels, three hand cut half blind dovetail drawers with silver ash drawer sides and partially recessed Bendee handles. 

The Cabinet interlocks the base which is of wedged through wedged mortice and tenon construction for strength and visual interest. Finished externally with Danish oil and all internal surfaces are waxed for protection.

Derek’s winning piece ‘Lautissimum’. Images supplied by the artist.

The Sunshine Coast Wootha Prize is sponsored by Sunshine Coast Council

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