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A Day In The Life

A Day In The Life of Kelly DeWitt

by Maxwell Tielman

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Austin seems to have become a breeding ground of sorts for wonderful new design talent, and of the many recent makers to sprout up from this Texas city, one of our favorites is woodworker and furniture designer Kelly DeWitt. Established in the fall of 2013, Kelly’s custom furniture company KKDW features minimal, handcrafted pieces that seem to defy definition. Drawing inspiration from Shaker design principles, the pieces are simultaneously modern and timeless, bare-bones and luxurious. With rich wood and welded-steel constructions, they celebrate both modern forms and a traditional love of craft and material. Although still relatively new to the design business, Kelly seems to be doing pretty well for herself. She currently splits her day between two workspaces—a studio in central Austin and an at-home workshop on her 3-acre homestead outside of the city. We recently had the chance to catch up with this talented maker and were thrilled to be able to take a peek into her everyday life. From quiet morning coffees to lumberyard jaunts with her dog, Ellie, it’s a real treat! Continue after the jump for all of the photos. —Max

Photographs by Arden Wray

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“Each morning we wake up around 6:30 and almost always take the time to make coffee and drink it together.  My boyfriend Travis is also a woodworker and a welder, so we really treasure these slow morning starts.”

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“After we make coffee, I romp around with Ellie outside. She tags along with me all day long and this ritual gets us both ready for the rest of the day.”

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“I incorporate plants in a lot of my designs, so I’ve got quite a few in the house. Some of them need some real TLC, so I take some time every morning to check in on my little flora buddies. I picked some of these up with my friend who runs Ethel.”

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“Every day holds a different schedule, whether I’m in my workshop in Austin proper working on big furniture pieces like tables or credenzas, or in my home studio outside of the city working on smaller-scale pieces. I always like to plan my day and write out a list of errands and projects.”

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“Today I’ve got to head into town to pick up a lumber order. I drive this old truck without A/C or a radio, but it’s a really special vehicle and I love to ride around in it.”

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“Ellie’s always very helpful in the lumberyard.”

 

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“I’m back at my home studio and working on some orders for knives.”

 

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“I draw out the shape on the solid wood and cut it on my bandsaw, then shape it with a file.”

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“I finish all the knives by hand-rubbing mineral oil and beeswax with a few levels of super-high grit sandpaper that leaves the knives feeling like silk.”

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“Lunch is my favorite part of the day, and when I’m working from my home studio it’s always extra special because I can take a little break and actually prepare a meal.”

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“My home studio at the end of my workday. My friend and talented designer Lauren Dickens designed and painted my sign. It’s made out of scrap cedar from quilt boxes I build for Folk Fibers.”

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“Around quittin’ time, both Travis and I love to watch the sun go down on the hill behind our house. We get a killer view and like to close out the day on our back porch, usually with a cold beer.”

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Comments

  • Wow, her designs are fantastic. Thanks so much for introducing her to us. I live in Austin and see some bar stools that need to be in my home. Thanks!

  • Nice to be able to share a day with you and Travis and Ellie from Newcastle, UK. See you in the new year.

  • My own backyard woodshop = dream :) I love the Day in the Life series – I’d be excited to see a bit more content in these (more photos/details), for sure! Regardless, these are so fun – a little glimpse into the very cool life of another.

    One thing I’m always curious about is whether the photos where woodworkers are using motorized saws/other power tools and wearing jewelry are semi-staged (with the tool not in use during the photo)? In every woodshop/machine shop I’ve ever used (including my family’s), one of the very first things we have to do before starting work is take off anything that could get caught in a machine. Loose clothing, bracelets/necklaces are the worst offenders, but rings are also dangerous. Obviously her rings are ridonkulously cool (*WANT*), it just always catches me off guard to see someone wearing jewelry at a machine.

    Bonus safety-nerd comment (cringing at myself, here) while on the topic: glasses/goggles when using a saw are pretty important. Getting splinters in the eye is bad enough, but even worse when you’re in the middle of using a saw and can’t just let go of what you’re working on (it can jam the machine, or worse, fly out of the machine and hit you/someone else). NOT aiming this at the subject of this piece – she’s obviously a pro and I’m sure is SUPER careful/uses appropriate safety procedures. Just tossing this out there for folks interested in doing their own woodwork!

  • PS: Definitely check out her site! Her bar/counter stools in particular are awesome (the supports at alternating heights are a really thoughtful touch) :)

  • How wonderful to read a little about a “day in the life of….Kelly”!!! I love your work!! Hoping to see you over the holidays, and to hear MORE!

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