Meet the Locals // Joshua - Made by Human Studio
As we walked through Joshua's backyard gate the first thing I noticed was a pile of tree trunks sitting right outside of the garage. This sparked all sorts of questions right away…
Do you ever have a shortage of large enough materials for your sculptures? Luckily a shortage of materials is not really the issue. It really becomes more of a logistic thing to to get the materials back to the house from wherever the tree was initially, mostly because each piece can weigh hundreds of pounds. Joshua has friends in the hauling business… that really comes in handy with these situations it makes it more convenient but really he says it can still be a pain. Each of the pieces currently sitting outside of the garage first had to have a chain tied around them then they are lifted into a dumpster that is then loaded onto the hauling truck, it took a total of three men to move each of them!
How did you get started with woodworking? Well it all got started when about seven or eight years ago he stumbled across Robert Dewaele’s studio at The Hot Shops, Robert's work inspired him to get into sculpture and he then started to go in and work on his own projects every weekend.
How many sculptures do you work on at once? A lot! As soon as he see's something in a piece he will get started on it, he will stop working on it once his 'vision' is complete until he can see where it should go from there. He draws on the pieces with chalk as he get’s to craving and it just keeps progressing step by step from there.
How do you know when a piece is done? Actually one of the items he is currently working on in the studio was once considered ‘done’, he had been working on it for about four years and thought it was complete, he put it on a base and even took it to a few shows, then it just sort of hit him... it wasn't done yet so off it went back into his work space.
Did you ever take woodworking in school or did this purely stem from being inspired by Roberts’ work? Nope, never took woodworking! He worked in construction from about the age of 15 till roughly 22 then throughout his 20's he worked with Therman Statom. Statom is a painter and sculptor who’s work with glass is pretty fascinating... Google him... seriously!
How long have you been attending shows as an artist? About two years now, but this is his first Handmade Omaha show. Woo hoo!
Is this your full time job? No, not at all! Currently he is going to school to be an art teacher and working a part time job in addition to woodworking.
How do you find enough hours in the day to do everything? Josh was very adamant that he just makes time, because he loves doing what he does so much. Just like everyone else he and his wife sit down to watch Netflix at night but unlike others instead of just laying back he carves out a couple of spoons by the nights end.
Does your ever wife get frustrated about all the time you spend working on everything? He doesn't think so, and if she does she hides it really well because on occasion he will find her watching him work on things! - How sweet! : ) - Now speaking of how sweet his wife Caitlin is... every Sunday is dedicated to working on his projects so she get's up early and makes them pancakes for breakfast while he goes outside and starts up a fire and get's started on the days work, what a lady!
How / when did you get started on smaller items like spoons and cutting boards? More than likely he recalls getting started on them after seeing some online. He has been working on smaller items for about three years now. Really it was just a break from large sculpture where he could sit down for a few hours and see a finished product at the end, sculptures can take hundreds of hours to be completed so really it is a break to work on smaller items.
Then his wife chimes in about how he also dabbles in oil painting... So when did you start painting? As it turns out he started painting right around the same time as he started sculpting but he only paints in spurts, he works on a few paintings then moves right back back over to sculpting.
Did you know that you can carve both green (wet) wood or dry wood? I always assumed that you could only work with dry wood but it turns out that I am wrong, I did learn that there is a differently set of tools and working process to use on green wood... pretty interesting, ya?
Then James starts up a conversation about an audio book he has been listening to... Okay, so really at this point it is the five of us... Joshua, Caitlin, James, Jill and myself talking about stuff but it seems pretty likely that my dear husband would just start talking about an audio book, right? Back to James's question though... So this book that he is listening to right now is is talking about passive and active brain functionality and how your brain is still processing things in the background while you are doing more mundane tasks. How does this play into your working on smaller cravings / painting? This holds true for Joshua because really there is this build up with sculpting that leads to a lot of drawing / painting / prepping for awhile then its always a refresh as he makes his way back to the bigger projects again.
Joshua said two things that really stood out to me, of course the whole conversation was very interesting but these two things made the biggest impact on me. First, we started talking about all these cool artist shows that have been popping up through Omaha over the course of the last four to five years, before this 'revolution' of sorts the only 'craft' shows were more like older lady church craft shows, it seems that the word craft is really starting to take on what it once meant again like someone learning a craft and being a craftsman by trade. Secondly, I was asking my typical questions trying to figure out how he got into the world of being an artist after working in construction for so long and Joshua's response was something like, 'construction is an art as well, you are building a rational structure as per the instructions as opposed to building an irrational structure out of glass per an artists detailed directions.’
Thank you so much Joshua, Caitlin and Amos (their awesome boxer pup) for letting us invade your home and having such wonderful conversation! Make sure to check out Joshua's table at Handmade Omaha and also go take a look at his website as well by clicking on the link Made by Human Studio.
*** All photography provided by James Wells of Stark Media Design. ***