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10 Years, Three Cities and One Incredible Canadian Maker

10 Years, Three Cities and One Incredible Canadian Maker

Eleven years ago, Cameron MacLean had an itch. He’d just finished a university degree in the sciences but didn’t want to work in what he considered the rigid confines of academia. A move to from Vancouver to Toronto provided unexpected inspiration. “I noticed all the furniture people discarded onto the curbs,” he says. “It just seemed natural to take it in and do something with it.” Delving further into woodworking, he continued to use discarded wood, both from urban areas and other woodworkers. Offcut Studio was born.

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Unusually, Cameron creates both very small and quite large pieces, from miniature-castle-like ring holders to custom home offices. He finds each scale stimulating in its own way. At the moment, he’s particularly enjoying making small furniture, such as entryway or side tables. “I love the challenge of building compact furniture which maximizes functionality in a tight space while incorporating minimal design,” he says.

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A commission of particular interest to the artist saw Cameron modify an old steamer trunk for a business duo starting up an online shoe store, who wanted to set up the trunk as a travelling display/store to bring to events. Cameron put the trunk on end so it opened like a book, lined the inside with monogrammed leather and added rows of walnut shelving. The case includes a small desk surface, complete with storage. Cameron even created a fitting stool that could slot into the trunk. For easy transport, the entire unit was placed on four cast-steel wheels.

Recently, Cameron relocated from downtown Toronto to rural Nova Scotia. A big change? Not so much. Thanks to the internet, his practices haven’t altered in any dramatic way. “My business and my wife’s are mostly online, and we ship worldwide,” he explains. (Visit Cameron’s Etsy shop) This has freed them to relocate, and they now own their own house and property. “I find myself warming to the challenge of building outdoor furniture for the house.”

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Cameron’s not afraid of a challenge. His latest project? Renovating his new home. He and his wife are tackling the late-19th-century farmhouse room by room. The most difficult part, he says, isn’t the hard work – or the fact that he’ll have to live with his own handiwork. It’s trying to stay true to the original character of the house while incorporating his personal aesthetic. In search of the perfect balance, he does custom millwork, and takes apart sash windows and original doors to restore them. “It’s an invaluable education on the integrity of the substantial joinery and craftsmanship that was used back then.”

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While this designer doesn’t play favourites with his work, Cameron does have “a special fondness for my saltcellars and round wood clock.” These two were among the early pieces that brought him his first measures of success, and remain his longest-selling designs. He loves his commissioned work, too. “You’re making something that is a considered part of someone else’s life,” he explains. “That’s rewarding.” Explore his work, and perhaps find something rewarding for your own life, on the Offcut Studio website.



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