Matt Tommey / Vine Baskets by Matt TommeyMatt Tommey is an Appalachian basketmaker in Asheville, North Carolina. Matt's baskets are a whimsical collaboration of traditional Appalachian forms...
I started out with plans of being a fashion buyer (and who does not like to shop with other peoples money) but seriously, I ended up with a better life than I ever dreamed. Filled with lots of love, animals, books and last but not least glass.
ARTIST'S STATEMENT: All my life all I've ever wanted to be was an artist. I never thought I could because I wasn't born with the ability to draw and paint like a Master. So I gave up that dream and went on to college to become a fashion buyer. During each semester, I had to take a humanities course; one term it was art history, than photography, and so on. Little by little I realized that the definition of a artist is not just someone that can sit down and draw or paint. The definition of artist encompassed so much more. I already was one, just different from what I thought a real "artist" was. Combined with figuring out the true definition, I found a great book called Drawing On The Right Side Of The Brain.
I realize I will never be a Michelangelo, but now I don't beat myself up over that fact either. And most important of all, I try. You will never know how something will turn out unless you try. Life is far too short not to have some beauty in it.
AWARDS: People's Choice; Bozeman, MT First place; Mountain Makins Festival, Morristown, TN First place 3-D; Tomato Festival, Rutledge, TN Merit award; Art in the Park, Foley, AL
Process: Stained glass panels take anywhere from days to weeks. Fused glass is heated in a kiln up to 1700 degrees, annealed, cooled, and then re-fired in the kiln to slump to the desired shape. Glass casting can take from a day to weeks to heat and then cool. Sandblasting adds decorative elements to all of the above.
Biography: I can remember at a very early age of making a play-dough bowl with various fruits in it. I was so happy that I made something with my own hands! Then I grew up seeing limitations on various aspects of my life. So I went on to college to be a fashion buyer. To pay for tuition, I worked as a server (and a bartender, a cocktail waitress, and several different positions in clothing stores). One night after shift when we were all sitting around talking, the question "what would you do if you knew the end was near"? came up. I said " be a beach bum, just sitting in the sun reading"?. Ah, if only one could get paid for doing that! Then while going to college I gained a new outlook on art when I was taking the required humanity courses. I did excellent in photography, and the teachers said I had a good eye for design. Soon after completing my degree, I met and married my husband who was in the Air Force. He was being transfer to Alaska. I didn't have a clue what I was going to do up in all that cold (I am from the deep South). He gave me the best thing - the choice to do anything that I wanted to do. I have always loved the architecture of old Southern homes and how they are filled with beautiful stained glass. I took two stained glass courses, and then have spent over 26 years absorbing and leaning as much as I possibly can; from stained glass to fusing, to casting, then on to sandblasted glass. As with any art, there are good days and bad days, but I still feel the same joy after I complete a piece like I did as a child with my play-dough bowl of fruit. Then when I see that spark in someones eyes when they fall in love with one of my pieces, I know I'm doing what I'm supposed to do.
To see work in person: Arrowcraft, Gatlinburg TN
The Folk Art Center , Asheville NC Cumberland Gap National Historical Park, Middlesboro KY
Parkway Craft Center Blowing Rock NC
The Craft Fair of the Southern Highlands October 20-23 Asheville, NC
The Seconds Sale at the Folk Art Center, Dec