Wood works

Artist and cabinetmaker Nicolas Esposito carves out a place for himself on the Island.


Woodworker Nicolas Esposito grew up in Scituate, and moved to the Vineyard with his wife Casey about four years ago. His interest in woodworking came pretty naturally to him. “I grew up in a blue-collar town, at least it was then, so all my friends or friends’ brothers and dads were in the trades,” Esposito said. “I always enjoyed that physical work, but I broke out of it for a while, went to college, and spent some time working in the office world. The place where I worked was basically a football field of cubicles. It was soul-crushing, and I said, ‘I’m not doing this. I’m going to learn a trade or a craft.’”

Esposito works full-time as a cabinetmaker for South Mountain Co., and creates his own pieces in his home workshop. Prior to living on the Island, Esposito created a woodworking company called Farm and Hand. “I made dining tables and dining sets for about five or six years,” he said. “The idea of Farm and Hand was to merge woodworking with the natural world, and also cross into other crafts via collaboration, by using craft crops to produce historical utilitarian items. I was selling at farmers markets, craft fairs, and art shows under this name, and it was my full-time gig. It’s still something I feel very strongly about, and I look forward to seeing how it can evolve and grow here.”

Currently, Esposito is selling his wares through commissions and pop-ups. “I try to work within the boundaries of my space. I carve spoons and bowls, and make chairs and small side tables,” he said. “Now that I’m not doing weekly fairs, the pressure is off. I can have a number of things going, and I don’t feel pressured to finish them all or sell them all.”

Except for some work on the lathe, Esposito carves his pieces by hand. “I work with machines all day at my job, so I like not hearing them at home. I like hearing the slice of the wood when I’m carving, or the chop of the ax when I’m splitting logs,” he said. “I really like hand-carving. If I’m carving a bowl, I’m wrestling with it — turning it, gripping it, etc. It’s a very tactile experience.”

Esposito uses materials he finds in the woods behind his house and on the beach. He likes using green wood, which is pliable and a bit easier to carve. According to lowimpact.org, green wood refers to wet or unseasoned wood that has recently been felled or harvested. “Green woodworking allows me to have a direct connection with the material in its natural form,” Esposito said.

It can be very freeing to create art when you aren’t trying to make a full-time living at it. And, of course, things change — we age, have kids, move — and those changes can impact how, where, and when we create. “A large part of what I’m doing now is working with my kids. I’ll be joined by one or two of them, usually within about five minutes of going out to the garage,” Esposito laughed.

Esposito’s kids, 8-year-old Phoebe and 5-year-old Ollie, may very well be woodworkers in the making. “Phoebe is making dioramas, and I give Ollie blunt-edge metal tools so he can’t cut himself. There are remnants and footprints of them all over the workshop,” Esposito said. “And I love that.”

Esposito had a pop-up sale last summer at the Ruel Gallery in Menemsha, which is owned by artists Colin Ruel and Nettie Kent, and did quite well. “I was very fortunate to have people come in and support my work. I’ve known Colin and Nettie for a while, and they’ve been really supportive,” he said. “I was taken aback by people who were ready to support me, show my work, and collaborate with me here. I didn’t have that experience in the last two places I lived. It seems like people here realize that we all do better together.”

When asked if there are any new creative endeavors he’d like to try, Esposito said he has a few ideas rattling around. “I have a prototype of a chair that I made in a class I took in Vermont, that I’m trying to adapt my own design to. I’d also really like to get into sculptural work, and I’ve been super-interested in basket weaving. I planted some willow, and I’m looking forward to using it when it grows,” he said.

What’s coming up for Esposito? “I’ll probably do something this summer. Another pop-up, and maybe a First Friday,” he said. “Another thing I’m trying to envision is teaching classes — maybe spoon- and bowl-turning. I want to dip my toes into different things. My tentacles are everywhere, and I want to learn everything.”

To learn more about Nicolas Esposito and his work, visit his Instagram page at instagram.com/farmandhandmv