Meet The Maker
After an incredible response to her homeware objects at the prestigious West Coast Craft fair, Oakland resident Melanie Abrantes left her day job as a graphic designer to pursue a woodworking business. For the past six years, the maker has been sculpting and shaping blocks of material using a woodturning lathe and transforming them into beautiful one-of-a-kind vases, bowls and hanging planters. Her first book, Carve: A Simple Guide to Whittling, hit shelves last summer, and she’s been busy sharing her craft with others ever since. A recent sourcing trip to the Philippines has inspired the artist, who is half-Portuguese and half-Filipino, to merge her two cultures together into new designs, including a line of furniture she plans to launch soon.
How do you get in the creative zone?
Travel helps get my creative juices flowing. It could be a hike to the local redwoods or going to a different country. I find inspiration in the textures, colors and shapes of new places and different surroundings. On a more practical level, I start by solving a problem that I have in my own home and designing a solution. A lot of my pieces are inspired by living in small spaces and objects that tie me back to nature.
What made you want to work with wood and cork?
I started teaching classes so I could show people how to work with their hands. I think it’s so necessary to take a break from technology. Carving in my class will give your eyes a break, plus teach you a new skill that you can perfect and continue after. Wood is such a solid material, and it’s fascinating to me how we can manipulate it into beautiful objects for the home.