- Matt Thomas blended cherry wood with a steel vine in his 28-inch-high “Hybrid Traditional Plant Stand.”
Matt Thomas was introduced to woodworking by his father when he was 14. What started out as projects to meet his mother’s needs for their new West Virginia home morphed into small furniture.
A couple of years later, his parents urged him to participate in a jury session at Tamarack: The Best of West Virginia’s retail gallery in Beckley. “I was one of the youngest artisans to have my products there,” Thomas says.
What’s better? None of his hard work was going unnoticed. Jeff Fetty, a local blacksmith and Tamarack juror, invited Thomas to apprentice at his shop. From 1998 to 2002, Thomas slowly increased his skills and responsibilities, eventually contributing design ideas to the studio’s custom fireplace screens, tables and outdoor sculptures. “This experience opened my eyes and mind,” he says.
But Thomas is extraordinarily practical. Instead of continuing on with Fetty or branching out into his own studio, he pursued general contracting work to support his wife, and later his family.
Thomas / work launched in 2002 as a general contracting business and is now extended to Thomas’s newest venture—a line of fine furniture lovingly crafted from cherry and walnut and often accented with organic iron designs.
The scale of his work has been limited by the size of his Shock, W.Va., studio—a 12×20-foot space on his family’s property—but he hopes to complete a new, significantly larger, studio space this winter.
Each design begins as a sketch, and is adapted to three-dimensions on the computer so Thomas can view it from all angles. From there, he creates a prototype (many of which end up as gifts to his wife Terri). Successful pieces are added to one of Thomas’s three lines: the traditional line features Shaker-inspired pieces; the contemporary Truffle line showcases textured walnut; and the hybrid line refers to pieces that merge wood with iron.
When his new studio is completed, Thomas plans to tackle two queen-sized bed commissions. For now, he’s ironing out a chess table, bedside jewelry chest and a coat stand that accommodates umbrellas.
“I want people to appreciate my furniture’s timeless design,” Thomas explains. “And be left to decide which is better, the quality of the woodwork or the ironwork.”