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The Art of Handcrafting Furniture with Salt x Steel Designs

Creative People Feb 7, 2019

It’s time to meet (and get inspired by!) another amazing creative.

This week, it’s Evan Roberts from Salt and Steel Designs. Evan’s furniture creations are the stuff of all your interior envy/day dreams/saved Instagram folders rolled into one. I came across Evan through his gorgeous girlfriend Lucy, who I’ve been working with making DIY creations for the last few years (remember that simple DIY cutlery roll?). Not only was I blown away when I saw the arched mirrors he designed and makes by hand, but he also made 50 amazing desks for Spell HQ, AND managed to make recycling bins cute. And that’s just the start! Recently we sat down and chatted with him about how he got to be so talented, what inspires him and the process behind making that amazing mirror. I’ll take five  of everything please!

Tell us a little bit about yourself!

My name is Evan and I grew up in a small country town in rural NSW. I moved to the city when I was 22, then eventually made the trek north to Byron Bay for a sea change around 6 and a half years ago and haven’t turned back since. Pretty much my whole family has some kind of creative streak in them.
My mum was a potter, She had her own pottery studio set up in our garage which was really cool. As kids we would always be popping in to art and pottery studios all across the country side. My brother was an artist, uncle a fashion & garden designer and grandmother was always doing all types of arts and crafts. My uncle taught be how to weld when I was 14, I instantly had a connection with it. I always loved welding and creating things from scratch out of my own head without plans or drawings.

How did you start experimenting with handcrafting furniture?

I didn’t really like the designs and quality of the things you buy from home/furniture stores so I decided to take on the challenge of making my own.  I started off with coffee tables, shelves, surfboard racks etc. All my timber work is self taught, I had never really worked with timber before I started building furniture. My workshop was my front lawn and as you could probably imagine my neighbours weren’t too impressed. I got a few orders here and there over the next few months then it pretty much snowballed and 8 months later I opened up my own proper workshop in Byron.

What inspires your use of materials in your designs?

I’ve always been inspired by the ocean and the Australian outback, two completely different things haha. I really like working with natural colours like pale Eucalypt, light matte blues and yellows. I’ve even been using a dusty matte gold lately on some steel mirror frames I’ve been making . With the timber I love bringing out the natural grains and really exposing that. Native Australian timbers are by far my favourite. I recently went on a trip to Mexico where I got some really cool inspiration, there mixture of Spanish, American and tropical island architecture is so cool.

What’s the process behind creating that amazing mirror?

Step 1- Inspiration

I usually get my inspiration/thoughts when I’m out surfing or riding my motorbike, that’s when my mind really wanders and gets creative.

Step 2- Material selection

With the big arched mirrors I’ve been making I went to my local steel supplier and scoped out the best material for the job, I wanted it to look quite seamless but the mirror to be still bordered. I did 2 trials and the second one I nailed it. My local glass guy cuts the arch in the glass for me to use.

Step 3 – Building process.

  • First off I cut all the steel to length. The 4 pieces for the frame then the 3 pieces for the bracing across the back.
  • Then I roll the steel arch way to a template that I have, it can get a bit tricky at times. It can be quite temperamental, it’s not hard to go too far then you have to start all over again.
  • Next up I weld the frame up to create the arch, then weld the bracing in (3 across the back). The bracing keeps it nice and sturdy and also works as the backing for the mirror to stick to.
  • After that I grind & sand all the welds back so it appears seamless, now its ready for painting.
  • I usually paint them in a matt dusty gold which looks cool. It’s kind of an Lux/antique colour.
  • Once the paint dries, I get my local glass guy to cut the arch shapes mirror and I fit it into place.

All done!

 

Do you have any creative advice for us?

I never really like doing the whole 9-5 thing. Working for someone else and not having 100% creative freedom just didn’t sit right with me. My advice is to really push what your doing, take to the next level and don’t listen to anyone else’s critisism. Sometimes it will feel like it’s all to hard, like you’re taking 1 steps forward and 2 steps back.
Those are the times where you need to work even harder and push your way through to the other side, there’s always something epic waiting around the corner. Take risk’s, make mistakes, don’t just play it safe and settle for second best. Surround yourself with creative, positive and likeminded people. Wether its building motorcycles, shaping surfboards, art, pottery, brewing beer, photography etc etc, don’t be scared to reach out to the people you look up to or get inspired by 9/10 they will be so stoked to help you out!
Thanks so much Evan! Make sure to check out his website and follow him on instagram to stay up to date with all his amazing creations.
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