A Woodworking Studio And Shop Features Hand Carved Kitchenware And Homemade Wood Oils
Blackcreek Mercantile | 107 Greenkill Ave |

“As long as I lived in the city, I never really felt like a city guy,” recalls Joshua Vogel, a woodworker, sculptor, and part-owner of Blackcreek Mercantile, a studio and shop he runs with his partner, Kelly, in Kingston, N.Y. “There’s this idea that you’re living in one of the largest metropolises in the world and you should be exposed to all this artwork. But I was living there and working so hard, I went to the Met [Metropolitan Museum of Art] maybe twice. It took leaving the city to get back to the museum.”

Inspiration now comes from Joshua’s natural surroundings, having traded the geometric angles of cement pillars for the poetic grains of tree branches he finds on long walks near his home. Bearing a physical and emotional connection to the material he uses, he gathers these fallen branch pieces, shaping them into free-form sculptures or turnings. Sustainably harvested maple and cherry wood takes the form of tantalizing kitchen tools and cutting boards. These small scale products — hand carved and made-to-order — are then sold in the shop or to specialty stores all over the world.

Be it sculpture or spatula, Joshua insists there is a similar intention to everything he creates. “On one end of the spectrum, the sculpture can be very open-ended. On the other, it can be more literal, like a spoon,” he says. “There’s certainly a niché we’ve found with woodworking and kitchenware. The point of the spoons [and other kitchen tools] is to connect people with the fact that handmade things can add to your life in a positive way.”

Blackcreek Mercantile Cutting Boards

  “I like to think about design application. . . form, function, natural materials, and simple production processes – that type of thing. I believe that there is an underlying essence and connectivity to creative work of this nature that can defy style. I love the idea that mundane items, things that we easily take for granted, can become a source of beauty and connection in our lives…and that we can experience that beauty through using them or making them.”

Blackcreek Mercantile Cutting Board Oils

  “We offer a small line of “culinary care” products as a part of our business: wood oils and a formulation especially for knives and blades (which I even use on my gouges and chisels in the shop). The mineral oil base is food safe, will never sour, and is fortified with essential, cold pressed oils and bee propolis, an all natural 100% edible varnish.”

Blackcreek Mercantile Bowl and wood shavings

  “Wood shavings anyone? Shavings like these help to cure wet turnings. Then, they find their way back out into the world – into gardens and barns for compost, mulch, and bedding.”

Blackcreek Mercantile Studio

  “I think people love the idea of an organized toolkit full of potential energy and readiness: ‘A place for everything and everything in its place.’ I love the idea too. The reality for me is that it’s more of a moving target. In practice, it is certainly an ideal to aspire to. The cold hard facts about using a tool, first before anything, is your ability to find it!”

Blackcreek Mercantile Ladles

  “Ladles – roughed out. Limited runs of small products that are produced in our workshop. Working like this means that the final shape is arrived at by limits that are set by a person, not a machine. Each piece requires the completion of many steps and an ever-increasing series of refinements.”

Blackcreek Mercantile Bowl and Wood Shavings

  “Look for poetry in process. For me, there is a constant interaction between creation and destruction, chaos and harmony. One comes out of the other and each is balanced . . . also, that there is potential in all things, that usefulness may be a matter of perspective. Beauty and inspiration can be found in unexpected places.”

Blackcreek Mercantile Joshua Vogel

  “Please wear safety glasses! Do as I say, not as I do! For this lathe demo we turned a walnut branch that had just come down on our neighbor’s property. The wood is about as “green” or wet as it gets. You can just make out the sap spraying off the small bowl and seeping out the end grain. It is interesting to me that wood in its natural state is full of water.”

Blackcreek Mercantile Office

  “This is part of a 16′ long pin board in the office that tends to grow three-dimensionally. Sketches, images, letters and cards find their way on and off. I am a very visually-oriented person and find that I tend to “collect” both food for thought and food for the soul. The board is a great way to remember and project.”

Blackcreek Mercantile Daughter

  “This is a rare public sighting of the Boss.”

Blackcreek Mercantile Chalkboard Office

  “Painfully, I’ve come to terms with the fact that creative businesses need to have at least one foot based in reality. Scheduling, organizing, and planning has everything to do with creating focus and time, which we never seem to have enough of.”

Blackcreek Mercantile Cutting Board Oils

  “Our oil bottling process is decidedly simple and low key. The concept behind the product is “cottage industry.” The oil is prepared in small batches and bottles that are individually filled. Each cork is set with a mallet, wrapped with a ribbon, and dipped in wax, all by hand, with love.”