Cryptic Woodworks is my desire to create wooden products with a sense of wonder and mystery. More than just static furniture I desire to make products with moveable parts, puzzles, and secrets.
I draw inspiration from early furniture makers like Roentgen, Jefferson and others who incorporated mechanisms and hidden compartments into their works. Video games, fantasy and science fiction also greatly influence my designs. Cryptography and puzzles add the final layer that invites the user to interact with the piece.
I've had a long history of amateur woodworking. Growing up both my dad and grandfather had home wood shops and I learned to use them at an early age. In my younger days I did the staple projects: bird houses, note holders, key holders, coasters and such. Around my later teens I learned at scroll sawing and fret work and made a number of pieces in that style. Those were mostly all for gifts or just for fun and the challenge. During college I did have a few commission requests that I'd build over a break.
After college I had a few years off, working full time, getting married, setting up a house and farm. Once I had the room (and money) to start setting up my own shop I jumped in. At first I was just making items for our house, but soon I was asked about some commission work for smaller pieces - chairs and the like.
I did some training with the Arts at ACS over in Trenton, NJ, a few classes down at the Philadelphia Furniture School and then some more classes at Chuck Bender's Acanthus school. The classes certainly moved me into the realm of fine furniture.
While I liked furniture, I always had a love of puzzle boxes, trick opening furniture, mechanisms, riddles and the like that you'd find in movies or games. I wanted to make those real. Not having a large shop space, down sizing from furniture to box work also made a lot of sense. I was laid off from a long time job, luckily with a severance, so I was able to put several months into shop work and designs. Out of this came my first sets of tea boxes plus my first run of puzzle boxes - the not so subtly named Mysterious Wood Puzzle Box.
While I've had to pursue full time employment again (data scientist by day) I still get into the shop on evenings and weekends to take on the occasional commission and build out new lines of boxes, toys and other puzzle items. I have no intention of stopping and only intend to create more complex, creative and fun puzzle and boxes.