skip to Main Content

Maker – Handmade Portraits

workshop portrait

Making things with your hands is remarkably addictive. The tangible, tactile and often useful finished item is naturally highly rewarding but many have also posited that the “unfinished” nature of more technical handmade projects keeps one’s subconscious mind actively pursuing the project, creating constant stimulation and a nagging desire to get out to the workshop. There’s also the “legacy” aspect (at the risk of sounding morbid), the underlying desire to extend one’s existence far into the future by leaving a body of work behind.

I caught up with my buddy Mikki Suvia of Lambs Mandolins to start a new personal project, photographing people who make things with their hands. No rules, minimal retouching and just going with the flow. I’ll ask a few questions of the people I photograph and the questions are based on my own hobby of building custom kitchen knives, something that’s consumed a good amount of my time and taught me a lot of hard lessons in craftsmanship.

Hours of being bent over a workbench and breathing dust makes caffeine critical.

Rob: Favorite energy drink?

Mikki: Rockstar, Watermelon, ALWAYS!

Rob: Favorite part of the build?

Mikki: Believe it or not, making sure that the inside of the Rib Set is perfect, and Carving the Scrolls.

Mikki noted that improvisatory, artistic nature of this part of the chiseling process was the reasoning- must be why we get along.


Rob: What percentage do you do by hand vs. machines?

Mikki: 75% hand, 25% machine. I prefer to build using traditional “old era” methods, and simply love the “hand built” aspect.


Unfortunately, getting a little frustrated and destroying things is sometimes a necessary evil. In making knives, the knife can often simply become a smaller knife (save!). With musical instruments, this is definitely not the case.

Rob: Most expensive piece you’ve ever destroyed?

Mikki: A fully built instrument that was basically ready for finish. Many hours of time lost and some very expensive Figured Maple down the drain.

If you’re a maker of things and would be interested in having a portrait made (and perhaps a few working shots), don’t hesitate to reach out to be part of my project!

Back To Top