Recently, a client of mine came into the studio here in Asheville's River Arts District and realized that I not only created individual sculptural baskets, but also did one-of-a-kind mantel sculptures. We talked briefly about the project and they invited me to come on out to their home up at Lake Toxaway, North Carolina.
The day I arrived, their grandchildren happen to be there, which was a special surprise! I talked to the clients about what they envisioned for their fireplace mantel and then we all promptly headed for the forest. The grandkids led the way as I kept a close eye out for special treasures that could be used in the fireplace mantel sculpture. Once we had filled the back of my van with mountain laurel, I headed back to the studio to start the creative process.
Usually for me, the process begins with sorting through tons of raw material and then sketching some ideas based on what I find. The branches we harvested from their property were so striking that it didn't take long to create a design that I felt was beautiful and my clients loved! Once I had the design approved, the real work began - cleaning, preparing, weaving, attaching and finishing all these fabulous materials into the finished product.
When the time came to install the piece in my clients home at the Lake Toxaway Country Club, I was so excited to see their reaction! For me, that's the payoff... when my clients love what I've created. Plus I love the fact that their grandkids were involved in the process. Just think, for years to come they can look up and say "I was a part of that!". Here's what my clients had to say:
"We have known, and purchased, pieces of Matt's work for several years. As a result, we have had the ability to observe and appreciate the evolution of his craftsmanship and design skills. We recently commissioned Matt to create a " focal point" mantelpiece work for our North Carolina mountain home and have been amazed and thrilled with his extraordinary rendering. Not only do we feel as if we have a unique and beautiful piece of art, but one that also captures the spirit and essence of its environment.......plus, Matt's fun to work with!"
What an honor to create these wonderful nature-inspired sculptures for clients who really appreciate them! For more information on my fireplace mantel sculptures, visit Your Personal Design.
Matt Tommey is a sculptural basketry artist working in Asheville, North Carolina's River Arts District.