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Domestic Bliss

Domestic Bliss

Mattie Hinkley makes everyday objects more fun—and sexy.
Feature Article

Domestic Bliss

Mattie Hinkley makes everyday objects more fun—and sexy.
Winter 2023 issue of American Craft magazine
Long black brush being held by an arm full of tattoos.

Untitled (long black brush), 2020, ceramic, glaze, ixtle (a plant fiber), 6 x 15.5 x 2 in.
Photo courtesy of the artist.

Mattie Hinkley’s work is a mesmerizing mix of the fantastical and the practical. They delight in the mash-up of flat, functional surfaces and woozy shapes that evoke body parts and dreams—especially when it comes to the objects they put in their home. “If I make a really minimal plywood bookcase and I set it near a fantastical bench, it helps me find balance. I don’t think I could live with all flat planes, but nor could I live with all blobitecture,” says the Chico, California-based maker.

Take Wedge, a sculptural rug. Woven with scraps of undyed muslin, it has the classic look of a common domestic object—a throw rug in your grandma’s house or a catch-the-sand rug at your family’s lake house. “I used muslin scrap I found in a discard bin, so it has the raw, undyed quality of a really traditional-looking domestic object.”

But in the middle of the piece is a mysterious, evocative wedge shape. What purpose does it serve? “You can sit on it, you can lie and read a book on it, or you can have sex on it,” they say. “A sex wedge is an ergonomic pillow designed to help you do a task,” says Hinkley. “I want to make domestic objects that are reflective of the home in which I actually live.”

Wedge rug.

Wedge, 2022, cotton and MDF (medium-density fiberboard), 8 x 36 x 36 in. Photo courtesy of the artist.

When creating Wedge, Hinkley wanted to explore a new medium. “I’d never made a rag rug, and wanted to learn the form,” they say. They also wanted to center a common domestic act that doesn’t get talked about very much. “It’s so strange how unacknowledged sex is in the domestic sphere,” they say. “We cook, clean, eat, and have sex at home, so I made a body of work to acknowledge that. Let’s acknowledge the ubiquity of this joyful activity.”

Hinkley is interested in bringing people together and sparking conversations about life’s more intimate aspects, such as around Catchallabra. “A candelabra is placed on a dining table when people come together,” says Hinkley. “I like the idea of gathering, but I wanted to eliminate the formality. I wanted to make it funnier and more accessible, more lowbrow.” The piece is made of unglazed earthenware—a casual, approachable material—and the shape evokes body parts and entwined limbs. They hope the piece intrigues dinner guests and gets them talking. “We can talk about sex and sexuality and it doesn’t have to be sequestered to the bedroom, or whispered about or embarrassing.”

Earthenware designed to resemble a candelabra.

Catchallabra, 2022, earthenware, 9 x 18.5 x 6 in. Photo courtesy of the artist. 

Walnut bench with rounded base.

Post California, 2018, walnut, 17 x 48 x 15 in. Photo by Todd Sorenson.

Trained in illustration, residential construction, and fine furniture making—and currently getting their MFA in studio arts at Maine College of Art & Design—Hinkley has a wide-ranging artistic practice (“Curators often don’t know what to do with me,” they say). But they have an abiding interest in creating the furniture and objects we keep in our homes. “Making interesting, sculptural everyday art objects, that’s what I get energy from,” they say.

Hinkley enjoys the sense of accomplishment that comes with making the objects we live with.

“When you see them, you’re reminded that you put your time toward something you found valuable,” they explain. “You can say, ‘I got to make that. It was a joyful practice.’”

Hinkley’s MFA thesis work is on benches—pieces of furniture that bring people together. “A bench puts everyone on the same literal plane, there’s no hierarchy,” they say. “A bench really represents community—without community it would just be a chair.” For their final MFA project, Hinkley hopes to build the benches in the gallery space where visitors will sit to view their cohort’s final projects. “We don’t recognize the bench because we’re sitting on it, but it’s as valuable as the paintings we’re looking at,” Hinkley says. “I love a good bench.” | @mattiehinkley

Household handmade items including bowls and brushes.
Mattie Hinkley in their studio.

LEFT: Household handmade items created by Mattie Hinkley. RIGHT: Mattie Hinkley in their studio. Photos by Dani Padgett.

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This project is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts. To find out more about how National Endowment for the Arts grants impact individuals and communities, visit

Stack of four issues of American Craft with Winter 2023 on top

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