living material
living material

Mya from Atelier Objectora perceives wood as a material that carries the story from the moment she takes it in her hands. It grows, has its own cycle and even after drying, processing and transformation into objects, it is still a living material.

You work with wood. Why have you chosen this specific medium? Where do you source it from?

For me, wood is a material that holds a story, grows, and has its own cycle of life. Even after drying and molding it into objects, I consider it to be a living material. I also use brass, which is still very new and exciting to work with, however wood is unlike any material I know. Treatment of wood requires a certain effort, that I have learned to respect because this effort always pays off.

I choose the material depending on the project but also based on its color and grain. Sometimes it has to be the “perfect” piece of wood, but when I can, I go for the more faulty ones so I can purposely use its imperfections in my work. I inherited a lot of material that I save for special projects. I sometimes get my hands on wood from tree felling. And then I have a supplier who I reach out to when I need something of excellent quality or for custom projects. From these, I end up with a lot of leftover material which I try to reuse for jewelry and smaller things. The same goes for leftover brass.

What feels important in your craft?

Freedom, self-expression, contact, authenticity, humility. Freedom because I do not think there is anything that can come above the ability to create freely. Self-expression, because object without expression is not finished for me. Contact, because my objects are made for people. Authenticity and humility in the making, in the materials, and even in the philosophy, I follow. I believe that any object, no matter how simple, can be made into something special, personal, and timeless. I am trying to find beauty in the imperfect. Small imperfection can often move us more than flawless beauty.

How did you start working with wood?

The first time I became acquainted with woodcarving as one of the traditional techniques of puppet making was at the Academy of Performing Arts in Bratislava, where I studied Puppetry Scenography and Technology. However, I always admired carpentry. My uncle was a carpenter and his work with wood has fascinated me since childhood. 

At the end of my university studies, I started woodcarving as a hobby, at that time only with linden wood, which was the softest and therefore the easiest to work with. I made simple small spoons just for myself. The only tools I owned were two chisels, a knife, one hand saw, and sandpaper. Gradually, it grew into an absolute fascination with the material and I began to learn to work with it more efficiently. My first studio was in my own apartment under a hand-made floor on which we had a bed. So I literally had a workshop under the bed. After getting some more machinery and equipment, it all grew pretty fast.

How does the making of a jewelry box look like from the very beginning?

My jewelry boxes are always made of two pieces of wood, therefore at the beginning, it is important to draw the outlines to avoid creating too much waste. I try to respect the shape of the wood and if it has any defect, I respect it and work it into the object. I cut alongside the outlines with a saw that I inherited from my uncle. Out of all the machinery, it’s my favorite. It is the classy, old, good quality machine that has already gone a long way and will be useful for many more years. 

The cutout pieces are then glued and scraped with an angle grinder so they fit perfectly, then scraped a bit more and molded into the desired shape with a chisel. When I am satisfied with the outside shape, I draw a circle on the bottom part of the box and manually hollow it out to create a bowl. This is again sanded. I then attach the brass components. Finally, I stamped the bottom part with an AO logo and I treat the surface with a mixture of oil and beeswax or glossy varnish depending on whether I want matte or high-gloss surface. The finished jewelry box is then photographed and I prepare all the necessary text material to include it into my offer. I make most of the packaging too, since I want them to fitting to the size of my products and reduce the waste.

Where do you see the future of craft?

I think craft is actively coming to life. People are becoming more aware of its significance and its true price, but also of all the effort and intellectual value that flows into every object created under the hands of a craftsman, artist, or designer. I believe that even though it is sometimes difficult, it makes sense. For me, the craft is something that keeps me grounded and makes me feel like myself, grateful for those who appreciate my work and those who have chosen craft and art as their way of life.

Would you like to venture into larger objects over time? Where do you see the future of your studio?

My objects are gradually getting bigger, so it’s only a matter of time before I start creating larger solitary objects for the interior, which will also be used as furniture. This year is significant for me in that I am working on my first really big project, which will be a collection of sculptural utility objects that will contain the stories of specific women. The whole project is still at the beginning and I plan to present it at the beginning of next year.

Photos: Atelier Objectora

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