Matt Seiler, Beyond the Men In Plaid
I started woodworking in 1974 as a Cub Scout. Little did I realize how hard the woodworking bug would bite just based on that first Pinewood Derby car (which won Best of Show, by the way, and I still have it). For the next several years I chewed through a lot of wood using exclusively hand tools. I learned a lot about the working properties of wood in the process.
Fast-forwarding to the early 90s--with a new house came the need for home-renovation tools. But long after the renovation had stopped, new power tools kept showing up. The renovation had rekindled my love affair with working with wood.
A company closure and subsequent layoff in 2001 gave me the opportunity to pursue woodworking full time, and the sudden ability to intensively concentrate on my craft was a training ground that's paid high dividends. I've had the ability to try my hand at a number of disciplines. Watching David Marks on cable TV gave me the confidence to go beyond the Men In Plaid on the PBS stations, and to work with veneer and curvilinear forms. This led me to three different classes with David at his home shop in Santa Rosa, California. His influence and training emboldened me to try new and ever more adventurous strategies for my furniture designs.
Got a match? I can make one
A lot of my present commissioned work seems to involve either matching existing pieces or building to suit oddly sized niches in a room. For instance, I've been asked to exactly duplicate a spindle rocking chair (times three!) and even to build a pair of nightstands to perfectly match a vintage pair of Art Deco dressers. It seems that I'll take on the types of challenges that make other woodworkers run screaming. It's not easy work, but the uphill climbs seem to feed my soul.
To pursue the business end of my craft I joined the Chicago Furniture Designers Association. Since joining, I've been elected to their board and currently hold the office of secretary. This group, made up of design professionals in the metro area, holds a furniture expo about every eighteen months. As I design and build for these periodic and somewhat high profile shows, it looks like a bit of a "voice" and a perspective is actually forming in my work. I'll be interested--and surprised!--to see where things go from here.
-- Matt Seiler
To see more of Matt's workmanship, visit his Web site--then go see him in action as the main forum host at WOOD Online.