September 17, 2021 MAKER SERIES
Maker Series – Ally Silberkleit
We recently hopped in the car and drove a few hours north to visit Ally Silberkleit of Furlough Wood Co.’s studio in Waterbury, Vermont as part of our Maker Series. Ally’s work inspires us to pursue our passion as practice, and embraces the handmade marks of the maker, like our new Utility Apron.
By Autumn Jordan
What is your name + what do you make?
My Name is Ally, and I make functional art!
How was Furlough Wood Co. conceived?
I was working at the Smithsonian during the 2019 Government shutdown. I had two months where I was furloughed, and finally got to do my woodworking fulltime. When I went back to work, I realized I didn't want my craft to be a side hustle anymore. After thinking about names for a while, Furlough Wood Co. came to me, and it had a nice ring and story!
When did you start practicing your craft, and how has it evolved?
Looking back, I always did this. When I was little I would make furniture and houses for my toys. But I really got into it my senior year in college. I was taking a sculpture class where I had access to a woodshop that was seldom in use. I started playing around in there and seeing if I could teach myself how to make a desk. After that, I just kept trying to make more things and learning as I went.
What does a day in the studio look like for you?
I usually wake up and get some coffee and breakfast. I finish my coffee as I'm getting in the zone in my shop. I put my headphones on and listen to music or podcasts and pretty much stay there till I get hungry or it gets too late. I could stay in my shop all day long!
What inspires you + your work?
The thing that inspires me most is learning. I think each item I make is an experiment in seeing if I can learn something new or push myself to try a new technique. Other than that, I love texture and tool marks. A lot of wood that I saw in Japan (both in temples and just normal buildings) had a beautiful texture left from the hand hewing processes.
At MINNA we believe in creating beautiful, ethically made products and using business to do good – how do these concepts relate to your work or inspire you?
In making functional objects that don't try to hide the fact that they are handmade, I hope to have people become more aware of the time and energy that goes into creating the things we use daily. If you buy a bowl that took months to make, that is one of a kind, I hope that will make the relationship to the maker and the material and therefore nature more apparent. We’ve become so used to being able to quickly purchase the things that we need, which is good in some ways, but also makes it easy to forget that there are humans and their time and energy behind those products. I hope buying handmade one of a kind items pushes back on that!
What does “home” mean to you?
Home is where my wood and tools are. And also a solid community!
How do your ideas of home weave their way into your studio?
So far this looks like me always trying to live in a place where I can easily work from home or have a place to carve and make wood chips. I am in the process of securing land to build a home, and that will start with a woodshop I live above!
We learned you recently purchased a parcel of land in Vermont (congrats!). How do you see your craft influencing your future home?
My dream is to make a home for my furniture. Instead of having a house and buying or making the furniture, I want to make the house respond directly to furniture I've already made. Im very excited about this and expect to fully disappear into all the details once it gets going.
When you’re not in the studio, how do you like to spend your time?
Jumping in a cold swimming hole or camping and hiking with friends!
Where can we find your work?
Photography + Video by Autumn Jordan