Baskets bring a simple warmth and beauty into a home. Especially the one-of-kind sculptural baskets by North Carolina’s Matt Tommey.
The artist: Originally from Columbus, Ga., Tommey grew up loving the outdoors and was a part of the Boy Scouts and Order of the Arrow as a teenager. While working at the college bookstore at UGA, Tommey came across a book on basketry that focused on harvesting natural materials from the forest. He bought the book and experimented with the kudzu around his apartment complex. After graduating from the UGA, he and his wife lived in metro Atlanta area for 13 years where he made baskets as a hobby. In 2009, the family moved to Asheville, NC. Shortly thereafter, Tommey opened his studio in Asheville’s River Arts District and began to focus on basketry work full time.
The main goods: Sculptural art baskets for the home or commercial spaces. Includes wall hangings, fireplace mantel installations and baskets for a pedestal, shelf or table. Prices range from about $500-$5000 depending on the piece. Sculptural fireplace installations are $3,000 to $5,000, depending on size and complexity. About 50 percent of his work is commissioned from clients who have a specific vision for their space or want him to create something special for their home.
Materials: Locally available natural materials with a specific focus on invasive plant species like kudzu, mimosa, honeysuckle and grapevine. Also recycled copper, encaustic wax and clay.
His style: A modern interpretation of nature-inspired vessel forms using traditional basketry techniques and contemporary surface design.
What’s popular: Sculptural collections that include multiple baskets nested in mountain laurel branches, whether for the wall, fireplace or pedestal. In addition, free-form bark baskets woven with copper are especially popular.
Where to buy: In Asheville at his gallery and working studio, 191 Lyman St., #160 in the popular River Arts District. Also visit www.matttommey.com.