The Queue: Mattie Hinkley

The Queue: Mattie Hinkley

Get to know the people featured in the pages of our magazine as they share what's inspiring them right now.

Published on Monday, October 31, 2022.
Blog post cover graphic for The Queue featuring Mattie Hinkley
Cover of the Winter 2023 issue of American Craft magazine

Welcome to the inhabit series of The Queue.
A biweekly roundup for and by the craft community, The Queue introduces you to the artists, curators, organizers, and more featured in the pages of American Craft magazine. Our Winter 2023 issue (cover pictured right) is centered on the theme inhabit and will start hitting mailboxes in November! Join now to reserve your copy. In The Queue, we invite the inspiring individuals featured in this issue to share personally about their lives and work as well as what's inspiring them right now.

Mattie Hinkley centers joy in their practice—and in the home.
Mattie Hinkley is a mixed media artist based in Chico, California, whose domestic objects in clay, fiber, and wood inject joy, humor, and beauty into the home. Trained in woodworking at The Krenov School in Northern California, Hinkley is currently pursuing an MFA at Maine College of Art and Design, where they are building a series of benches for their thesis exhibition. “A bench really represents community—without community it would just be a chair,” they say. Laine Bergeson Becco wrote about their work in “Domestic Bliss” in the Winter 2023 issue of American Craft. | @mattiehinkley

Portrait of Mattie Hinkley in their studio
Shelf in home with utilitarian brushes and other handmade wood objects
Ceramic sculptureWood checkers board with ceramic pieces

TOP: Mattie Hinkley. Portrait by Dani Padgett. LEFT: A selection of handmade tools by Mattie Hinkley. Photo by Dani Padgett. RIGHT, UPPER: Mattie Hinkley, Catchallabra, 2022, earthenware, 18.5 x 6 x 9 in. Photo courtesy of the artist. RIGHT, LOWER: Photo by Dani Padgett.

How do you describe your work or practice in 50 words or less?
I make objects, mostly out of wood, clay, or fiber, and mostly for the home. Sometimes utilitarian, sometimes sculptural, always intended to cultivate a joyful environment. My studio practice is slow and quiet. I prefer hand tools and one-offs to machines and production runs.

In the Winter 2023 issue of American Craft, you said, “I want to make domestic objects that are reflective of the home in which I actually live.” What are some objects, realistic or fantastical, that you’d like to make?
I’d love to build a playground full of games and structures for both play and leisure. I don’t know why no one’s tackled cornhole boards as art objects yet. And, like most woodworkers, I’d love to build a dining set.

Mattie Hinkley at work in studio.
Mattie Hinkley at work in studio.

Photos by Dani Padgett.

What forms do you look to—in nature, design, literature, or elsewhere—to inform your work?
I’m always thinking about the body. It’s such a beautiful thing, but it’s also so ridiculous and dumb looking. Similarly, I look equally to the austerity of Shaker furniture and the wonkiness of comics, like work by Matt Groening or R. Crumb, and try to combine those influences.

Yellow bench with comic strip-inspired shapes
Blue and white ceramic jars with line drawings of people
Wind sock made from various blue fabrics to look like a sleeve

TOP: Mattie Hinkley, Comic Bench, 2019, poplar, paint, 65 x 11 x 36 in. LEFT: Mattie Hinkley, Sex Pots, 2022, ceramic, underglaze, glaze. Sizes vary. RIGHT: Mattie Hinkley, Windsleeve, 2021, fabric, twine, 88 x 21 in. Photos courtesy of the artist.

What’s one of your go-to / favorite tools in your tool kit that we should know about?
Blue tape, hands down. It’s a jig, a clamp, a template, a resist, a tear-out preventer, and a hundred other things. I use it as an underglaze resist when making wonky checkerboard patterns on ceramic surfaces. If I could be sponsored by anyone, it would be Scotch.

Which artists, craft exhibitions, or projects do you think the world should know about, and why?
The work Aspen Golann is doing with The Chairmaker’s Toolbox is so important to woodworking. Coast Collective is a beautiful new furniture curation project in California. Studio Two Three in Richmond sets the example for how a community art space can (and should) work.

Candid photo of Mattie Hinkley working with clay in their studio
Blue pickup truck with patchwork canvas tent built onto back
View of inside of patchwork canvas tent on the back of a pickup truck
View of inside of patchwork canvas tent on the back of a pickup truck

TOP: Photo by Dani Padgett. BOTTOM THREE: Mattie Hinkley, Sun Spot, 2022, cedar, fabric, 60 x 92 x 60 in. Photos by Kaia Anderson.

If today you could have any craft artist’s work for your home or studio, whose would it be and why?
I’d love to own just a single object by JB Blunk. But really, here’s what I want: a room built by Jay Nelson, furnished by JB Blunk and Kelsie Rudolph, with curtains by Adam Pogue, and lighting design by Yuko Nishikawa. But maybe that’s asking too much?

stack of four issues of american craft with the fall 2022 issue on top

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MFA Fiber and Material Studies School of the Art Institute of Chicago