Woodturner Nick Rosato of The Sculpted Tree presents his stunning portfolio and talks about the business of craft.
ABI: What inspired you to start wholesaling your work?
NR: I started wholesaling my work to build a foundation for income. I figured I had two options: work a regular job or work in the woodshop making lots of cutting boards and cheese boards. I designed a serving platter that could be reproduced consistently, yet have enough variation to make each piece unique.
I didn’t want to go to the wholesale marketplace with a product other woodworkers produced, even if I could beat their price or produce a better quality. I wanted to offer something a bit different, yet similar. The design of the platter was just the right hook. I called it the Star Serving Platter, even though my friends say it’s not really a star shape.
ABI: What direction will be you taking next?
NR: While producing the same products over and over again, my skills advanced significantly and in unexpected ways. I have developed other products that I can reproduce quickly, but are higher-end because they are much more difficult to make. I want to focus on higher price point items.
I’m going to wean myself away from the Star Serving Platter and produce other items that are not available in the marketplace. I’m also going to teach the craft out of my shop. Woodturning has become more accessible because of advancements in machinery and tools. I love turning wood and want to share not only the products I produce, but turning itself.
ABI: How would you describe your signature style?
NR: Most of my work is turned on a lathe. My signature style is what I call the star platter. It’s basically a square with concave sides. I make it in a platter and cutting board. Because I’m changing my direction a bit, I see my new style as using complicated parts of a tree.
There’s a section of most trees called crotchwood. It is the section where the trunk splits into two branches, or when a branch splits into two or more branches. It’s an extremely unreliable section of tree to use, but the rewards are worth it. I have developed a few ways to reveal crotchwood grain patterns and textures. I look forward to focusing in this direction.
ABI: What business lessons have you learned through mistakes you’ve made?
NR: Woodworking requires a lot of machinery, which is expensive and takes up a lot of space. Shop rent and bills can swallow your income pretty fast. I shared space with others, but they were not as committed so they got ‘real jobs’ and left me to cover the full cost of rent and bills. My rent increased and I had to work with fewer dollars.
I had to be savvy to find ways to make ends meet but dedication and perseverance are important. Managing money is difficult, especially when you have the creative mind of a crafter.