Tom Hewitt | Wood | Prescott, AZ
Woodworker Tom Hewitt's admiration for trees led Tom and his wife, Tricia, to design their Payson home so that they cut none down. The decision led to the house’s unique, 26-cornered design. And there is veritable forest surrounding his house, both alive and dead. Hewitt collects wood like he collects stamps, and his years of avid gathering have resulted in logs, pieces and piles of timber surrounding his house in a wood artist’s version of a candy store.
Out back sits Hewitt’s shop — Tom’s Wooden Wonders. “This is a workshop to die for,” he said. “Whenever I bring people here that work with wood, they don’t want to leave; they want to move in.” Hewitt makes vases, Lazy Susans and wine holders, among other things, with various types of wood, some more exotic than others. Hewitt’s most popular product is the tissue box covers he makes. He says he has made roughly 400. However, a snazzy new wine bottle holder that defies gravity could upset the tissue box’s No. 1 position. The wooden holder is slanted in such a way that the wine bottle looks as if it’s tottering precariously.
The majority of his wood comes from old furniture or a particular cabinet-making shop he frequently raids for scraps. Other pieces come from dead trees in his back yard. One vase is made of purpleheart wood from Africa, but Hewitt also uses tiger maple, mesquite and spalted oak. Hewitt has a wood saw that he’s carted around with him for 30 years. He bought it in St. Louis in 1978, before he moved to Los Angeles, accompanied by the saw, and before he lived in Scottsdale or Payson, where the saw also found space in each respective home. Hewitt has owned some pieces of wood longer than he has owned the saw. “But I’m trying to use it up,” he said.
Q&A with Tom Hewitt
What process/materials did you use to create your artwork? Recycled wood mostly from rejected wooden products, excess flooring, furniture that is no longer needed or used, building materials that are headed to the landfill, or other natural products trees etc. that are headed to the landfill.
What inspires you to create and what inspires your work? Certainly, I am constantly trying to improve on the products I make to add another dimension if possible. Instead of just a maple strip, I add birds eye maple or tiger maple for an example. I peruse the home magazines to get ideas of converting something made in ceramic to wood
If you had to describe your artwork in 5 words or less, what words would you use? practical, useful, inexpensive, classy, long lasting
What other artists inspire you? What's your favorite artwork? I make products for artists they use as a substrate. We must work together on projects to achieve that end.
What do you want your viewers to know about you as an artist (if anything?) I am just a regular woodworker enjoying producing the products that I make.
What's the best advice you've ever been given? Never give up
What is your favorite artist tool? Band Saw/ Table Saw
What is your dream project? Making bowls with multiple wood types
What do you like about your work? I am able to focus on the issues in real time and leave them behind when I close the door.
How has your practice or process changed over time? Certainly I have become more sophisticated in the products that I produce in that they have more artistic value and appeal to a larger audience.
What memorable responses have you had to your work? When I make a new product to test the market and it is widely accepted.
Why art? I don't really consider myself as an artist but as a woodworker. Although I do study the wood to make sure it matches properly (to my satisfaction) with the grain and colour. So some would say that there is an artistic component to my work.