Against the Grain is a series spotlighting those who are underrepresented in the woodworking, carpentry, and construction industry. We speak with people working on projects—from whole-home renovations to intricate wood sculptures—to learn what inspires them, how they’ve carved their own space (pun intended), and what they’re working on next.
When it comes to creating a life well-lived, Danielle Boltz of Honeysuckle and Mud has it figured out. We recently connected to chat about how a spark of curiosity led her down an unexpected career path, and what is next for the brand she runs alongside her husband, Hy.
How did you first get interested in woodworking?
DB: In 2016, I closed my brick-and-mortar yoga studio and was ravenously looking for something, anything, that would bring my creative spark back. I noticed myself side-eyeing wooden spoons anytime I hopped on Pinterest and decided I’d like to try and learn how to make my own. I ordered my first round of tools (a hook knife and a palm gouge) and got to carving on my front porch.
What project are you proudest of at the moment?
DB: I am a teacher at heart, and so I am really proud of our Spoon Carving Starter Kit and Spoon Carving Tutorial that we now sell all over the globe. It’s beautiful to witness so many people finding their own creative spark again, just like I did through spoon carving so many years ago. I also can't get enough of our cute little cabin we just finished building last Fall.
What was your biggest fail that became a valuable lesson?
DB: I cut myself pretty terribly soon after I began carving and am now extremely cautious when using any sharp tools, especially when teaching others to use them. It taught me how to always cut downstream, away from my body, and using dull tools is actually incredibly dangerous. I’d say this was a failure that taught me a hugely important lesson.
What was the first thing you ever built?
DB: Outside of small home goods, the first thing I ever built was an adorable teardrop trailer with my husband. It was so fun seeing our idea come to life. We used a ton of salvaged material; wood from a scrap pile, windows from an old vintage trailer, and curtains from my old yoga studio. It was our first flip project and really sparked a love for creating unique home spaces.
When did you realize this was more than just a hobby?
DB: The entrepreneur in me knew I wanted to monetize my woodworking the second I learned how to do it—but when it started to actually support us financially is another story. It took time! But, I always knew I wanted to make a living off of my art and to really break that “starving artist” stereotype.
If budget and time were no constraint, what would you love to build?
DB: I’d love to build an off-grid house for us on the coast. We love our off-grid home here in Montana, and I love the idea of having a smaller version of it somewhere coastal. Maybe Maine? We’ll see.
What's been the most rewarding part of learning to build?
DB: It’s empowering to know that any of us can learn any skill. I see so many beautiful design ideas, and I find power in knowing I can create that if I really want to.
It’s empowering to know that any of us can learn any skill. I see so many beautiful design ideas, and I find power in knowing I can create that if I really want to.
Favorite wood: Madrone
Favorite tool or piece of equipment: Our custom Hand Forged Curved Gouge, by far
Favorite piece: I love my home goods so much because it’s where my love for woodworking began so I’ll bring it back to my favorite stirring spoon
Biggest goal: To build multiple tiny cabins on our property (we currently have one, Northwest Montana Retreat Cabin) and a beautiful communal outdoor kitchen
Favorite step of the process: The planning, letting my mind wander and dream before execution
Favorite assistant: My hubby
Music on or off while working: Off, but give me a podcast
For more, follow Danielle and Hy on Instagram at @honeysuckleandmud