Inspired by a family of makers, Michael Altman has been creating art and custom furniture from wood for more than 20 years. He is largely self-taught through lots of trial and error and has benefitted from the many skilled craftspeople who share their know-how through social media. He typically designs and builds one-of-a-kind pieces with the intent to showcase the natural beauty of the wood. Several years ago, he added a small Kumiko feature to a traditional woodworking project and instantly became hooked on the craft. The beauty, technical challenge, and tradition has made it a primary focus of his work.
Kumiko is a traditional wood craft that has been practiced in Japan for over 1000 years and is commonly found in shoji screens and other home décor. Michael cuts individual pieces of wood to exact size and shape to create intricate patterns assembled from a light friction fit alone (he typically adds a tiny spot of glue before assembly to ensure durability). Different wood types are used to provide different colors, no stains or dyes are used. The larger designs have a fabric backer for contrast and the smaller items let the color of the wall show through.
Michael sources his wood from a local, family-owned hardwood supplier that follows sustainable harvest practices. He is a Chester County native and currently lives in the Kennett Square area.