CREATIVE WE ADORE: WEATHERED WISCONSIN

I think what draws me apart from other companies is that I handcraft all of my pieces. I pride myself on personal craftsmanship and I want that to show in every piece.
— Matt Rasmussen, Owner of Weathered Wisconsin

We, at Alyssa & Anna, are guilty of binge watching Fixer Upper. We're a little obsessed with Chip & Joanna Gaines and we wanted our store to embody their rustic sense of style. Luckily, we found Matt Rasmussen who's company, Weathered Wisconsin, designs and creates beautiful home decor with reclaimed wood. Not only is his work extraordinary, his company mirrors all of the values we stand for, to a T - recycled materials, handcrafted and made in Wisconsin. Thanks to him, we have a beautiful checkout counter made out of reclaimed barn wood, and a matching 3-foot Wisconsin cutout hanging on our wall. Even the wooden coasters sitting on our desks were made by him, so obviously, we had to write a feature on him. Even though "Wisconsin" is part of his company's name, he constructs many of his pieces in the shapes of different states. If you love rustic design as much as we do, we're certain that you're going to fall in love with Weather Wisconsin. 

WHEN DID YOU GET STARTED IN YOUR INDUSTRY?

I've always been interested in design since I was a young kid. I was the kid who got a 10,000 piece lego car or house for Christmas and spent the whole day putting it together, without even taking a bathroom break. Architecture runs in my family so it was an interest of mine from a young age. Throughout high school, I fell in love with residential design and decided to go to school at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, for architectural design. I was able to hone in on my style by the time I graduated, but it wasn't until I attended MATC in madison for a carpentry degree that I really began to fall in love with wood working. When I finished the program in 2014, I began making recycled/reclaimed art and furniture for friends and family, which trickled into doing farmers markets and starting my own small business. 

WHAT INTERESTED YOU ABOUT YOUR CRAFT?

I was drawn to the way that wood could be manipulated whether it be through physically cutting it or even through the application of color and oils. Design school definitely helped me build an eye for the beauty in aged materials but it's something that I've always been drawn to. 

WHAT ARE SOME OF THE THINGS YOUR COMPANY CREATES?

I started out building furniture such as benches, coffee tables, wine racks, etc. but I began to move into smaller home decor items. Now I focus on hand cutting the shape of Wisconsin out of reclaimed wood. It started out as being a one time project per a request out of pallet wood but it has grown into large scale cut outs of all sorts of reclaimed wood from barn siding to old gym floor. Since I am Wisconsin based I am commissioned to do mostly Wisconsin pieces but I have done Minnesota, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, the USA etc. per custom request. I also make smaller items such as cutting boards and coasters in different shapes as well. Some people ask "why the Wisconsin shape?" - I think people are drawn to something unique and something they can relate to. Many people are proud of their hometown and want to represent that in a different way. The biggest part I love about each piece is that no two are the same. Every piece of wood I come across is so different and this gives every customer a personal piece.  

WHAT MATERIALS DO YOU WORK WITH?

I work with a large range of wood species. Since I buy recycled materials, I take anything I can get. I find every species of wood beautiful in it's own way and the mixture of all of them on one piece makes it that much more significant and beautiful. I make my cutting boards out of bamboo but not only because  the nature of the wood makes for a great cutting surface, but for the natural beauty of bamboo. 

WHY DO YOU LOVE WORKING WITH RECLAIMED WOOD?

The biggest reason I love working with reclaimed wood is its natural beauty. You can't recreate it from new wood and it always has a rich back-story. Each piece of wood is so unique. One state cutout piece I create can tell a million stories. 

WHAT IS YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS?

I don't have much of a process when it comes to my designs. I have a stack of random wood planks and I try to mix pieces that will set the other off and make one beautiful piece. My designs don't take much thought as much as I would like to lie and say they do :) 

WHAT KIND OF SCHOOLING AND/OR TRAINING HAVE YOU HAD?

As mentioned above, I went to school for architectural design at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and post graduation, I attended Madison Area Technical College for carpentry and residential remodeling. This is the only training I have had, but as far as my designs go, I'm mostly self-taught.

WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE PIECE YOU'VE CREATED?

My favorite piece that I've created was a wine rack that I made out of an old dresser. My brother-in-law was going to put his old dresser on the curb, but I couldn't let it go to the dump. I find a lot of potential in people's "junk." I removed the drawers, completely gutted it, cladded it in reclaimed wood, added a new top with cork in-lay and made slots for bottles and hanging glasses. It was a few day process but it was one piece that I was truly proud of. It was sold to a nice couple at the Oshkosh Farmer's Market and I hope they are still enjoying it today!

WHAT'S UNIQUE ABOUT YOUR COMPANY?

I think what draws me apart from others companies is that I hand craft all of my pieces and cut them all by hand. I pride myself on personal craftsmanship and want that to show in every piece. You can tell the difference between a handcrafted piece and a piece that was created buy a machine, out of fake wood. People often wonder why hand crafted pieces are so expensive. It's because a lot of blood, sweat and tears go into those pieces (literally, but mostly blood) and they take a lot of time to perfect and create. Reclaimed materials can be very expensive as well, but I try to buy local woodshop leftovers and pieces from the Habitat for Humanity Restore in Oshkosh, WI & Appleton, WI. This keeps my cost down, while also supporting a great local organization. 

WHAT ARE YOUR HOPES FOR YOUR COMPANY IN THE FUTURE?

Right now, I do this more as a side hobby with hopes to be full-time in the future. It's what I love to do. Seeing the joy in people from making a custom piece for them is so fulfilling. I hope one day I can continue to do so every day and all day. Also, I would like to thank everyone who has supported my craft. I obviously, would be nowhere without any customers so thank you so much. I hope you all spread the word and that one day, I can have my dreams come true.

CLICK TO CONNECT WITH MATT: Instagram : @Weathered_W

BUY HIS WORK ON ETSY: www.etsy.com/shop/weatheredwisconsin