Q: When you first started working with wood, what was your inspiration/goal?
My first projects were mostly projects of necessity. I needed a new desk, I had a hard time finding one that I liked in stores, so I decided to build my own. I did this a few times with random things I needed or wanted around the house. I’m not sure I had many long term goals at first, only the short term goal of creating functional and aesthetically pleasing furniture pieces for my own home.
I did this sporadically for a couple of years, making mostly pieces for myself and close friends. Eventually I got inspired watching online content creators in other fields and thought that maybe I could do something similar in the building space. I did a few trial runs, documenting my process and sharing it online and the response I got was overwhelming. After that I decided to make a real effort. I started trying to build things as frequently as I could and reach as many people as I could.
Q: There are so many different types of woodworking, as your journey progressed did you find that you had a particular process that kept drawing you in?
Not really, I’m the type of person who thrives on diversity. I like the challenge of learning new techniques and the rapid improvement that comes with it too. So I’m always on the lookout for new techniques and new styles that I can try out. I will say that I have a tendency to use more modern tools and techniques though, so that’s one major consistent theme. I have a great amount of respect for people who practice traditional woodworking, but I don’t have the temperament for it (read: I’m too impatient).
Q: What would you say is the underlying passion and purpose to your woodworking?
To teach others and to explore my curiosity. I honestly don’t think I’d be working nearly as hard at my craft if I wasn’t sharing it with other people. Having an audience has given me license to spend a lot more time exploring the world of building. And because I’ve spent more time doing it, I’ve grown curious about different aspects of building. It’s a kind of positive feedback loop.
Q: You have many extraordinary pieces; which one is your favourite? And why?
Obviously, it’s hard to pick a single piece that I can hold out as my favorite. It really changes day to day. That being said one project that holds a special significance for me is a pair of nightstands that I built a few years ago. I ripped many thin strips of walnut and ash, glued them together into a sheet, and then used those sheets to make 2 night stands.
That was the first project I did where I really wasn’t sure I could pull it off when I first started. I really thought it was like a 50/50 chance of working. But it turned out, and the reception I got for it was fantastic too.
Q: Let’s get practical for a moment: Do you have a favourite type of wood to work with? Because ….
Oh, it’s definitely got to be walnut. I’ve always been drawn to walnut. I thought at first it was just a phase, but here I am, many years later and it’s still my go to wood. I’m not sure why exactly. Maybe it’s the colour, that quintessential deep brown wood colour. Or maybe it’s the variation in the grain patterns. I just never get tired of seeing it or working with it.
Q: We talked about passion and purpose, what about dreams: do you have something in your list for “someday”, a dream item to build?
I think the ultimate for me would be to build my own house. Completely, from the foundation through to finishing work. Each room completely tailored to my needs and desires. I’d try to plan out every small little detail to make the space as functional and aesthetically pleasing as possible.
Q: Why is that dream item on the someday list and not the “to do” list for now?
In a single word, cost. My bank account does not currently support my ambition. Hopefully in the future it will!
Q: Last question: looking back, looking in, and looking forward, what are you grateful for, in regards to your woodworking journey?
I think for me it has to be all the wonderful people I’ve met along the way. I didn’t really understand what a community it was until I got into it. I have friends all across the world and I owe it all to woodworking and building. Prior to that I didn’t really have many friends who were into building things like I was.
Thank you for taking the time to do this interview, sharing your story, and thank you for letting us into your world through the inspiration of your creations, your craft.
Martin Sojka, https://craftisian.com