We’ve long been fans of Bay Area cork and woodworker, Melanie Abrantes. We included her in our roundup of our favorite home goods designers at West Coast Craft and her products are the perfect combination of functional and beautiful. I even had a chance to take one of her woodcarving classes and while it definitely only increased by respect for her mastery of the craft, it was also so much fun (and more relaxing than I expected playing with knives to ever be!) So when Melanie annouced that she was releasing her first ever book, Carve, we knew we had to share. Below, Melanie shares more about her career and her book.
How did you get started in cork and woodworking?
I did woodworking for the first time in college. We had a very hands on approach to my product design major. It wasn’t until I graduated from College when I started working with cork though. I was able to get my hands on the material when taking a workshop in France, and I instantly fell in love. I had always been a fan of cork because my heritage is Portuguese, where 80% of raw cork material comes from. While visiting family growing up, I would see them use the material in different applications that I never thought possible. I wanted to use cork as a way to introduce the material to the American market as a product.
What inspired you to write your book and what is its focus?
I wanted to change the way most people view woodworking. It’s such a beautiful craft but up until recently it’s been seen as a much older men’s hobby. Now woodworking is having a moment again with younger people. I focused the book on three different categories: eat, live and camp, which focuses on the kitchen, home or outdoors. The book allows you to create 12 projects that modernize the way you see whittling and also with feminine approach.
I got the chance to take a wood carving class with you. Why is teaching others an important part of your career?
I love teaching people how to carve! It is so rewarding to begin a class where not a single student knows how to whittle and for them to leave with a beautiful project they made themselves.
Congratulations on your first book! What was the most challenging aspect to writing it?
The most challenging part of writing this book was keeping to the timeline! The book was created and shot in under two months. My photographer, Melanie Riccardi was also 7 months pregnant! She was a complete trooper and did an amazing job during the long days of the shoot but we had to make sure every project was set up and finished so she could easily just come in and grab the shot. It was a challenge but so much fun!