Matt Shields
matt@hydewoodworking.com
414-306-0457
Franklin, WI

I love and hate epoxy.

I'm drawn towards its physical properties. It is transparent, which allows me to create the illusion of negative space. It is also very durable, which allows me to use rotten, flimsy, fungus-infected and otherwise-unusable wood to be made into the sturdiest of coffee tables. I try to capture the interplay of strength-vs-fragility when designing the pieces, often with healthy doses of asymmetry. 

But for all of the creative opportunities epoxy affords, it is also the single greatest source of frustration in my work. 

 

The material is incredibly unpredictable, even in the hands of a pedantic science-nerd like me. I have a dedicated area for casting epoxy and treat it like a hospital sterile room. It has its own thermostat, dehumidifier, ventilation and air filtration systems. Hilariously, it is near-impossible to replicate consistent results despite careful control over the environment. Epoxy is a liquid, and it will do what it wants. No two batches behave the same. 

Thus, my process constantly evolves. 

A typical project begins with wood selection. The more abstract in shape, the better. I set a few size constraints, use tracing paper to outline the wood pieces and arrange them in the molds. Photoshop helps me visualize what the tracing paper cannot. 

After a few years of making a lot of rectangular and symmetrical pieces, I've decided to slow down in 2019 and change things up. I'm doing fewer projects and selecting new shape profiles, mostly circular and curved tabletops.