About Maria Klemperer-Johnson
Hammerstone School is a family business run by Maria Klemperer-Johnson. Maria is currently the owner and sole instructor at Hammerstone School.
Born in California and raised in Vermont, Maria now lives on a small farmstead in Jacksonville, New York, with her boisterous large family. When she’s not building houses or teaching, Maria can be found cross-country skiing with her children (aged 2 to 13), swimming in nearby Cayuga lake, or traveling to the Adirondacks, and always cooking elaborate and delicious meals. Maria and her partner, Chad, are planting a cider-apple orchard, and are learning new skills in order to grow acres of dwarf apple trees. Their apples will be sold to local cideries, where the will become craft hard cider. Maria values her homesteading lifestyle in a small community.
A graduate of Stanford University, Maria moved to Ithaca in 2000 to pursue a graduate degree at Cornell University. After a year, disillusioned with academia, she followed her heart and lifelong dream and began working with wood. With little prior experience, she apprenticed with the Red Barn Cabinet Shop, learning the ins and outs of furniture making and European-style cabinet design and construction. Maria also spent two years working with John Golay Builders in general home construction. In 2005, Maria and her husband designed and built their own off-the-grid timber frame and straw-bale home in Hector, NY, which has been featured on the Ithaca Green Building Alliance Green Buildings Tour. At the same time, Double Dog Timberworks was born, a small residential construction company concentrating on timberframe construction. Maria worked in conjunction with Tugley Wood Timberframing building timber frame houses in the Ithaca area. She completed timber frame barn renovations, natural renovations to conventional homes, and other smaller projects locally and further afield. Prior to the conception of Hammerstone School, Maria worked as a foreperson for Miller Tilling, leading an extensive renovation of a problematically designed high-end home, and getting an in-depth on-the-job education in weatherization and moisture management techniques.
In 2013, Maria set forth to fulfill her dream of sharing her love of building with other women by creating the Hammerstone School Carpentry for Women program. As the principle administrator and instructor, Maria conveys her deep knowledge and understanding of the building trades in a supportive, efficient, and humorous manner. Maria designs her courses around construction projects ranging in size from sawhorse building to the framing and finishing of small houses. With an understanding of the importance of hands-on practice with new skills and tools, each course includes substantial practicum, as well as the sharing of concepts in design and safety techniques. As a woman in the trades, Maria is familiar with the experience of entering a hardware store and being patronized as a woman. Students leave courses familiar with appropriate vocabulary and understanding to engage in building projects with confidence. Maria’s courses help others develop the confidence, skill, and understanding that she has found necessary for success as a person and a woman working in the trades.