For our monthly series “Meet The Kitchen Purveyors,” we sat down with Egils Artmanis, a woodworker, to get to know him a little bit better. Egils has hand crafted tables and stools for many of The Kitchen family of restaurants. Here’s what he had to say:
* Where are you from?
I’m originally from Latvia, I came to the U.S. in 1995.
* What brought you to the states?
Well, It’s kind of a long story. We had a wood working business back home, and we hired guy from the states to come teach us a particular kind of joinery. We became good friends, he told me to come to Boulder, that I should work for this high end company that specializes in timber framed log building. They are a really good company and I worked with guys from all over, including Denmark, France. I worked for this company for 10 years, and I had some amazing jobs. It was a great experience.
* How did you become a Woodworker?
My grandfather was a blacksmith, and my dad was metal worker. I started woodworking when I was six. We had free programs in school, and I got sucked in. I went to a four year apprenticeship program for cabinet making, wood carving, custom furniture, and restoration. It was really strict. For the 1st year we weren’t allowed to touch power tools, we had to do everything with hand tools. It takes the most to learn hand skills, everybody can run machines, but hand skills are really something to tie your soul to.
* What are you working on these days?
I design, I do drawings, I did model drawings for The Kitchen Next Door in Boulder. Its a fun thing to do, somebody comes in with ideas, materials, and I get this creative moment to figure out what can be done. I do work for residential customers too. We do so many different things. We do tables, wine cellar doors, we build kitchen cabinets, and staircases once in a while. Every new project is something new, and that keeps it interesting.
* Why does craftsmanship matter?
If you look at some old pieces of furniture, or any kind of big craft, you can see that it feels different, it looks different. It’s kind of hard to explain. I believe in a transformation of energy, the energy you put into your work comes out, it radiates really. That’s how I operate. It’s a never ending process. It’s not like you can get to a point where you’ve achieved everything, where everything is done. There is no ending, it’s a constant learning. You just hope you become better, and as long as there are people who support you, who you can learn from, you do become better. You keep learning a lot about yourself too, it becomes your passion, and you just want it more and more. It takes lots of time, lots of energy, lots of effort, and you hope your wife doesn’t leave you before you figure out where you’re going with it.
* You have quite a history with The Kitchen?
Yeah, they’ve been really great, I’ve been really fortunate. We started with some small jobs, and I guess they liked me. It’s fun to work with The Kitchen, there is a creative process which I really like, I’m glad they’re keeping me busy.
* What inspires you, who inspires your work?
There’s a big range. I like shaker style, George Nakashima for modern furniture, Sam Maloof. Thonet is one of the great ones from 1904. It’s amazing looking back, what they did and how they did it. You don’t find that anymore, it’s beautiful. I used to do photography, and before I went to school to be a cabinet maker, I was thinking of becoming a sculptor. I like to play music, but I haven’t touched anything for two years. I used to play soprano and tenor saxophone, its more of a hobby really.
* What are you thinking about right now?
I don’t have time to think right now, I’m building tables.