There I was in Atlanta Georgia attending the International Woodworking Fair. Atlanta is a pretty amazing city and the event itself was absolutely massive showcasing woodworking tools and equipment from the humble marking knife through to a CNC machine about the size of a tennis court. A selection of the big woodworking brands was there including Veritas from Canada, Z Saw from Japan, Narex from the Czech Republic, CMT out of Italy and of course, Fine Woodworking magazine.
“his elegant pieces are simple and balanced, yet inherently complex through the combinations of materials, colour and structural elements”
This was all pretty exciting particularly when Wally Wilson of Veritas invited me along to the Fine Woodworking party in the city. Fine Woodworking right?—That world famous American magazine all us Australian woodworkers have drooled over for years. Playing it cool, I said to Wally “I am pretty busy mate, but I think I can make time to come along,” Wally rolled his eyes and laughed.
Arriving at the function, freshly washed and sporting my favourite Lost Art Press t-shirt, Wally nearly died reminding me that Lost Art Press are Fine Woodworking’s competition, oh well—at least they will remember me I thought. And then, whilst trying to make conversation, I introduced myself to Fine Woodworking Editor Tom McKenna asking “So, what do you do at the magazine?” Yes, the team at Fine Woodworking will definitely remember me now. Luckily along came Matt Kenney to rescue me from myself. He introduced himself as a woodworker and writer at the magazine, we grabbed a beer and had a long chat.
Matt has been making things from wood his entire life starting out building tree forts and skate board ramps, but his decision to pursue woodworking as a career did not come until later in life. About 20 years ago when he was a struggling and newly-married philosophy student, out of necessity and in earnest Matt began to make furniture. Then a generous professional furniture maker from Camden, South Carolina called Joe Mazurek took him into his shop and taught him to cut dovetails, make doors and hammer veneer. Matt has kept up the craft since then, constantly striving to improve his craftsmanship and design skills. The result of his efforts is furniture that is modern but grounded in the best of classic design, able to sit harmoniously alongside a wide range of furniture styles, and built to survive generations of daily use.
During the last 10 years, he has focused on making decorative boxes and small tea cabinets, which led him to the Japanese art of Kumiko. His elegant pieces are simple and balanced, yet inherently complex through the combinations of materials, colour and structural elements that Matt applies. Matt is the author of 52 Boxes in 52 Weeks (Taunton Press), a book chronicling his successful attempt to design and make 52 boxes during the course of a year. Matt works as an editor and special projects writer at Fine Woodworking Magazine and is a co-host on the popular Shop Talk Live podcast.
Matt and Wood Dust
Post the Atlanta show, Matt and I have stayed in touch via Facebook and we met up again in Connecticut this past Christmas where he granted me the special privilege of a personal tour of the Taunton Press headquarters. With snow on the ground and tall conifers all around—what a beautiful place to work.
Thanks to that chance meeting in Atlanta, I am pleased to say I have found a new American friend in Matt who has assisted me in building a relationship with Fine Woodworking. As a result, Fine Woodworking have become an official sponsor of Wood Dust and are sending Matt Down Under to participate and report on the festival.
Matt Kenney is leading a one-day intensive masterclass on the Japanese art of Kumiko. Unfortunately, all tickets to the class have been sold out, but do not fear, Wood Dust will soon be releasing a series of short masterclasses where you will be able to spend some time with Matt—stay tuned.
Matt will also participate in “A Makers Life” yarn at the Wood Dust Yarns at The Q lecture series on Wednesday evening the 17th of October. Matt is a feature guest alongside master craftsman Michael Fortune and American furniture artist Andy Buck. Matt will be signing copies of his new book “52 Boxes” in the foyer after the event. Secure your seat at this very special evening, tickets now on sale.
You can also meet Matt at the Wood Dust Timber & Tool Marketplace held at the Bungendore Showgrounds on Saturday 20th and Sunday 21st of October 2018. Come and chat with him at the “Meet the Makers” pavilion alongside other woodworking identities including Tom Lie Nielsen, Vic Tesolin and Terry Gordon. Tickets to the Timber & Tool Marketplace are available online now.