The Wonders of Wood

Portland, Maine woodworker Matt Hutton creates beautiful, one-of-a-kind furniture in the comfort of his own backyard.

Matt Hutton went to art school to be a medical illustrator. He graduated with a BFA in woodworking and furniture design.

“It was not until I took a foundations course in 3D design that I knew I could make things,” says the Portland, Maine woodworker. “I also saw a visiting artist lecture at this time by Tommy Simpson, a renowned furniture artist, and it totally changed my life. I enrolled in woodworking classes after that, and the process just clicked.”

After receiving his BFA, Hutton studied on a grant from the Japan-United States Friendship Commission suggested by his mentor, Wendy Maruyama. The grant took Hutton to Japan for a semester and brought a Japanese student to San Diego State University, where Hutton was enrolled in graduate school.

“The program is two years long and does not have tuition, but what you make while you are there becomes property of the school,” Hutton says. “In a way, it’s a job as we would know it, but you are trained each day and go through a regimented curriculum, and then leave with a wide skill set in woodworking.”

Hutton came to Portland in 2002, straight out of graduate school, to teach at the Maine College of Art on a one-year contract; that year turned into 14. During that time, Hutton helped create a nationally recognized woodworking and furniture design program at MECA, where he is an associate professor as well as program chairman.

Balancing a full-time teaching career and a full-time studio, while also being a full-time dad, can get hectic. So Hutton built Studio 24b in his backyard. Quick access is a necessity for getting any woodworking done. “I often spend the evening in the studio once our kids have gone to bed,” he says. “My wife jokes that I lead a double life, as I often leave the house each night from 8pm-12am, when everyone else has ended their day.”

Since Hutton’s work varies in size, the number of pieces he creates each year varies as well. Last year, Hutton finished a piece on average every three weeks, which included some large projects such as an elevator bar, a dining set, and a large-scale sculpture.

Pricing for work also varies. Almost everything Hutton makes is a custom piece, so pricing is based on the scale and scope of the project.

While most of Hutton’s work is sold in the Northeast, he has shipped work as far as Austin, Texas. Hutton also participates in shows such as the Architecture Digest Home Design Show and the International Furniture Fair.

Although Hutton’s business is constantly growing, he doesn’t plan to leave Portland or his beloved backyard studio. “It’s a very special building to us,” says Hutton of Studio 24b. “The architecture is large, but not monolithic. Doors and walls pivot to allow flowing access from inside to out, and the building is quietly complicated, similar to my work. I thoroughly love working in that space, and feel very fortunate to have found a home with enough land and space to accommodate it within Portland city limits.”

Matt Hutton – owner of Studio 24b
Portland, Maine
All photos courtesy Studio 24b
John ArvanitisThe Wonders of Wood

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