I make things. ”I can’t not make things.” It’s a quote from one of my favorite authors and essayist (and unfortunately) the late David Rakoff. He was obviously speaking about himself. But that is exactly how I feel. “I can’t not make things.” I never stop thinking about the project or projects in front of me, the next project, and even projects I’ve finished.
I’ve always made things; I can’t remember a time when I didn’t make things. But I struggled when I was young, it was always hard for me. Until, in junior high school at the age age of 11 or 12, I made a bowl from Honduras mahogany on a wood lathe. Thankfully, or maybe luckily, mahogany works easily. It was the first time I worked with wood where I had success, where I actually enjoyed it. I was immediately hooked. So what turned out to be my dad’s greatest parenting moment, he bought a wood lathe for me. Together we started buying small pieces of wood from around the world, and I found a hobby which chose the direction I’d take in life. In a way, Barry Newstat Furniture began when I began my life’s work, in 1971.
I started my career as a teacher. But I was restless, I want to make things! So after only six years, I quit and in 1987 I started making things as a profession. In addition to furniture, I am constantly looking for new pieces to create. My process most often starts with a specific piece of wood, which will determine a project I’m compelled to make; it will set my direction and ultimately decide what form the piece will take. Before ever making a cut, I can spend hours searching and sorting lumber stacks and looking at lumber or just small boards I’ve put aside.
I choose to work in a pure and traditional craftsmanlike way. How a piece is created makes all the difference. My work is created from the heart, and I still get lost in the art of making things. My hope is it will be admired for its beauty and taken advantage of for its function; it will make a home a warm, inviting and inspiring place. And when taking a closer look, you’ll say out loud “wow, look at that!”