Tell us a bit about yourself.
We are Matt and Amie. A few miles from the little town of Spring Green, WI, lies Timbergreen Farm. Timbergreen is a sustainable tree farm where we harvest dead and dying trees. Our wood then goes into one of our three solar-cycle lumber kilns, and using the heat collected from the sun, we dry all of our wood. Once our wood is dry it is turned into a wide variety of products in our converted dairy barn/wood shop.
At home we have three very cool kids, Emily, Kaye, and Elijah. When they’re not doing their homework, they’re often helping us sand, sort snowflakes, or run errands. Finally, after all the holiday hustle, shipping and sanding we make our yearly escape. We close our doors, put our Etsy shop on vacation, and run off to Sanibel Island, Florida, where the weather is warm and the water is fine!
Apart from creating things, what do you do?
Matt: I make homemade pizza; grill with wood scraps; play the piano; grow orchids and keep a garden; take things apart and try to figure out how they work, and sometimes put things back together. I also like to go camping and help the kids with lots of homework.
Amie: I am a book junkie, reader and collector! Recently, cookbooks have been tripping my trigger. In the mornings, I can’t help but watch the large squirrel colony in the yard frantically scurrying about. Matt also says that with little warning I go into “art history docent” mode and bore all those around me, including the squirrels.
What would be the title of your memoir? Why?
Matt: The title of my memoir would be Dust. Everyday I find myself covered in dust from head to toe. Working with wood, I often feel I am more of a sawdust manufacturer than a woodworker!
Amie: Complementary Colors. I love colors and how they work together to create a richer art piece. I think that life is like that too — we live and find other people who can complement our personalities and create a richer life. My memoir would be about the wonderful people I have met, the experiences I have had, and the ways art has tied itself to all the workings of my life.
Where does your inspiration come from?
Matt: My inspiration comes from math, geometry and their ties with the natural world. I’m endlessly fascinated by the Fibonacci sequence and the Phi ratio. I incorporate these heavily into my work, and it is always exciting to find other artists who are keenly aware of the existence and essential importance of the concept that natural beauty has significant mathematical foundations in Phi.
Amie: With inspiration, I often think of Frank Lloyd Wright claiming complete originality. He sourced his ideas only from the land surrounding the project. I find inspiration in the colors cast by an autumn sunrise or the markings of a metallic beetle. I’m inspired by the waves in the river current, smooth textures of a city skyscraper, a fantastic font, beat repetition in a song or an interesting alliteration. To find your own voice as an artist, I feel you must appreciate everything, but love only a few.
What does handmade mean to you?
Matt: Handmade means you touched it, you changed it, you held it, you moved it, you hauled it, you molded it, you melded it, and you made it your own. When finished, you have something that is new and unique by your own hands. Handmade means that when it doesn’t turn out the way you hoped, you can’t blame a machine and you can’t cite computer glitches or malfunctions. Handmade successes also come with immense pride and joy and are personal triumphs you can’t wait to share with the world. In the end, handmade is always heartmade.
Amie: When I think of handmade, I think that the person that conceived of the piece actually touched/altered the material with their hands. Art museums drive me crazy because I walk in and must put my hands instantly in my pockets. I want touch all these wonderful works and trace the lines on the canvas, feel the texture of the sculpted hair of Greek statues in hopes that I can feel a greater connection to the piece.
Who has been most influential in your craft?
Matt: Without a doubt, my partner Amie is definitely the most influential on my craft. We work together very closely, and everything I make is almost like a gift to her. It’s fun, and even though we sometimes barely see each other in a day, she always knows I’m thinking of her.
Amie: Matt. He pushes me to be better, do better and believes in me, us, our art, and our business when I am sometimes uncertain. His faith in what we are doing is unshakable, and he never lets me fall behind him. Together we are able to bring our different skills to the drawing table and use our combined abilities to create something greater and more unique with our talents combined.
How would you describe your creative process?
Matt: My creative process involves pushing everything to the absolute extreme limit, then pushing just a little more until it breaks. I repeat this destructive process several times until I have a really good sense of exactly where the edge of possibility lies — and then I stand on that edge and teeter in the wind.
Amie: I don’t know how to distinguish my creative process from just living my life. I don’t sit down and say, “Okay, now I must create!” I’m always thinking things over while doing dishes or tying bows on snowflake boxes.
If you could peek inside the studio of any artist, designer or craftsman (dead or alive), who would it be?
Matt: If I could peek inside the studio of any artist, it would be Malcolm Davis. Davis is a ceramic artist who creates great forms with astoundingly dynamic Shino glaze finishes. I’ve always envied his beautiful works and wish I could attend one of his yearly workshops in Tuscany.
Amie: Leonardo da Vinci because he understood that science and math are intrinsically essential to beauty and art. Louis Sullivan because he dared to do what others only dreamt possible. Henri Matisse because the colors in his works are intoxicating. Chuck Close and Georgia O’Keeffe because they force you to look closer and make sure you don’t miss the little things in life.
What handmade possession do you most cherish?
Amie: I love the set of ceramic mugs that I bought from Matt when we first met. I love the way the mugs feel and how I can hold something that he created with his hands. I still like putting my thumb in where his thumb print is at the base of the handle. We cherish these together — I bought a set of four while Matt kept the fifth. When we finally united our lives under one roof, the set of four again became five and now they symbolize our meeting, courtship, and union.
How do you get out of your creative ruts?
Matt: If I feel like I’m stuck in a creative rut, I switch gears and put on another hat for a while. There is always something else to do! Of course, if all else fails, there is always cleaning….
Amie: Because I enjoy working with so many different materials, if one is just not working out for me, I jump to a different medium. If I am still feeling really stuck, I find paging through an art history book can get me back on track.
Where would you like to be in ten years?
Matt: I would love to be managing our business remotely from Sanibel Island in Florida. I would happily spend my days combing the beach looking for a Junonia shell (if you find one they’ll put you in the local paper!) while Amie soaks up the tropical heat and reads books at the beach.
Amie: In ten years the nest should be empty, and I see myself anywhere with Matt, my Kindle, and a sketchbook and collection of drawing pencils. A beach and a cocktail would be great too!