Reclaimed wood is the medium and Eric Beneventi is the maker. His company Hounds Tooth Wood Werk takes inspiration from the material itself and the sky above. His handmade swings with inlaid constellations are beautifully crafted alongside more rustic live edge pieces. This juxtaposition is what really makes Hounds Tooth Wood Werk exciting and so fresh at each market. Beneventi speaks to Maker Market on how he got his start and how HTWW has truly evolved.
Maker Market: How did Hounds Tooth Wood Werk get started and what inspired your name?
Eric Beneventi: I started it as a creative gift giving outlet. I would make small kinetic sculptures using simple machines like levers, cranks, pulleys. These first pieces were from the heart and mimic my illustrations. I then started building furniture to furnish my own house, and a few small pieces for friends. I was pleasantly surprised by the positive feedback I got and decided to try my luck with selling it. The name was inspired by two things really. First my dog, a coon hound named Raisin. I still have the first tooth she lost. Secondly, an old phrase about a saw "as sharp and as clean as a hounds tooth".
MM: How were you first introduced to woodworking?
EB: My Grandfather first introduced me to woodworking as a child. He was a gifted woodcarver and I would watch him in his workshop or sitting out on the back porch as we talked about life lessons.
MM: How would you describe your aesthetic?
EB: My aesthetic is ever evolving. As my skill set has grown in the past few years, the feel and quality of my work has evolved as well. I started out doing very rustic reclaimed tables and have grown into more refined pieces with a rustic feel. I want to keep as much of that feeling as necessary to highlight the other life the material has had.
MM: Where do you source your materials?
EB: As far as the materials I use, I try to come by most of it by accident. I am more picky than I used to be. I would pick up anything and everything I could get my hands on. Now I try to pick out wood with more history. I have used reclaimed flooring from the Turner Hall and wood from the Avalon Theater remodel as well as oak barrels that Lakefront Brewery used to age their beers in. I have also been working with the Urban Wood Lab, they cut down trees in Milwaukee and turn them into wonderful live edge lumber.
MM: Do you find inspiration from the material itself? What about using reclaimed wood excites you?
EB: I love the warmth, feel, and character that reclaimed wood has on its own. I try to keep that in doing as little processing as needed. The colors and defects from the natural weathering is what inspires me the most about this material.
MM: What does your creative process look like? Where do you work out of?
EB: Since I use reclaimed wood I come about the process differently than some other crafters. The materials dictate what I can make. Some pieces are sitting around for a long time before they "speak to me" and tell me what it would need to be to give it new life. Other times I know exactly what I want to make as soon as the materials come to me.
MM: Love the new swings! Have you got to swing on one of these beauties yourself?
EB: I have not personally tried them. The first two I made were gifts for my niece and nephew for Christmas last year and they seemed to love them. The newer ones I have for sale are inspired by constellations and each one has a different Mythical star formation inlaid on them.
MM: Do you create custom work? Any favorite projects of late?
EB: I mostly do custom work. It has been truly beneficial to speak to new customers at Maker Markets and most of my business comes from people seeing my work and contacting me about custom pieces in the days and weeks after each market. My favorite projects are the custom live edge pieces I have done.
MM: What is currently inspiring you? Music? Movies? IG Accounts? Blogs?
EB: Inspiration hits me at the strangest times. I can’t pinpoint my ideas from any real media but a spark will always ignite from the star gazing and cloud watching. I’m really into the mysterious side of the universe and the unseen. I have just stumbled upon a very intriguing podcast called Tanis. I won't go into it but it’s quite bizarre.