The phrase “Handcrafted Objects by artist Joshua Knutson,’ written in a large font on the home page of the Made by Human Studios website, is poignant. Handcrafted. The details he puts into each project show that these products take a lot of labor and passion. That is why he named his business Created by Humans Studios.
“I wanted my work to look like it was made by human beings,” Knutson states. “What I like to see is that kind of fingerprint, tool marks that the maker leaves on their work.” Viewers can clearly see the ones that are hand-finished. They can trace the journey of the product in the lines and designs unfolding to tell a piece’s story.
Knutson’s woodworking journey began around eight years ago in Omaha. Knutson recalls stepping into the studio of local wood sculptor Robert Dewaele and being immediately drawn to the art. He started spending some time in the studio; helping out on projects and apprenticing with the artist. In the time he spent there, he discovered he enjoyed using the tools that made the wares. From chiseling to sawing, woodworking was a project that gave him immense satisfaction. Creating items from scratch was nothing new to him. Knutson had experience in construction, and he understood the labor and beauty of working with one’s hands. This experience helped him transition into woodworking. He was also drawn to the meditative and relaxing aspects of practicing the art.
His descent into this craft happened over time. While his interest in woodworking blossomed, he met his now-wife, Caitlin. He began working on smaller pieces at home while sitting on the couch in order to spend more time with her. After working on projects for a while with Dewaele, Knutson got an invitation to show his work during a private event at a friend’s house. People then requested he display his products at The Made Show, then different shows around the Omaha area. His business grew from making sculptures to making specialty products such as wedding toppers and household wares such as kuksas, Finnish drinking cups made from birch wood. He specifically makes these cups because they “have a nice human feel to them. People can take them camping or have them for everyday use.” His kuksas, however, are not made from birch, but from mulberry, apricot, and other wood. He wanted to make items that were practical, and that people could use on a daily basis.
Knutson and his wife moved to Hastings when he took a job as a firefighter/paramedic at the local fire station. What began as a solo project turned into a family affair. Knutson and his wife are the force that keep the business running. His wife takes photos of his work and builds the website while he creates the sculptures and products.
The couple now have a 1-year-old son, and Knutson hopes to soon pass down his passion to him.
After taking a year off from doing shows following the birth of his son, Made By Humans will ready to showcase their work in the coming months. But for now, the company continues to sell their products off of their website.
Visit madebyhumanstudios.com for more information.
This article was printed in the June 2019 edition of OmahaHome. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.