When you think of a ‘furniture maker,’ Mrs Isabel Fuller of Resthaven Leabrook may not be what comes to mind.
However, that’s exactly what she is, producing high quality, hand-carved wooden furniture that now adorns her room at Resthaven Leabrook.
Having worked as a midwife, Mrs Fuller ‘always thought I’d like to try wood working.’
‘I liked older types of furniture, but it’s so expensive,’ she says.
‘I bought that one over there,’ she says, pointing to a beautifully carved antique chair sitting in the corner, ‘and I thought to myself, “I could make that”.’
‘So I went to the Norwood Wood Carving Academy, and I just loved it.’
‘I had a very good teacher.’
‘I did that little foot stool,’ she continues, gesturing towards a small stool that would look very much at home in any antique shop.
‘I also worked the tapestry for that one,’ she says proudly.
‘I did pieces for all the family, and made a few for myself.’
She explains that, ‘After the war, we were all very poor, so my brother made a coffee table for my wedding present. That inspired me.’
‘I don’t know where the creativity came from because my dad was in the police force, and so was my brother!’
One of nine children (‘My poor mother!’ she exclaims), Mrs Fuller grew up in the country. After finishing school, she started training as a nurse, initially working at Maitland Hospital.
After a stint as a private nurse in Walkerville, she spent two years at Crystal Brook Hospital, then two years at the Adelaide (before it was ‘Royal’).
‘After that, I got my certificate, and went to the Women’s in Melbourne and did midwifery.’
‘It was just when the boys were coming back from the war and there were lots of ladies pregnant!’
‘I remember one night there were 16 babies born on the ward. It was busy.’
After meeting and marrying her husband, the couple first moved to Blair Athol, then to Magill. They went on to have four children – two boys and two girls.
‘My husband went into hotels,’ she says. ‘We owned the Light Hotel at Eudunda, and the Brauhaus at Angaston, and the Duke of York in Currie Street.’
After her husband died, Mrs Fuller moved back to Adelaide, before eventually moving into Resthaven Leabrook, where she is ‘very happy with everything.’