Greetings weary internet travelers and explorers! We’ve been doing some dungeon-delving for new content offerings, but wanted to share another segment of our Meet Your Makers series, this time featuring the incredibly talented woodworker and creator Art over at Hexwood Creations. After catching up on our Q+A be sure to head over to his TikTok (@hexwoodcreations) and be sure to follow along with his adventures (and misadventures) in woodworking and business.
First off, I want to share how much I love Art’s ability to go humbly before his audience and followers to equally share his highs and lows. He has never been afraid to share the truth about his craft and his courage has inspired me to get back to the grind for the things I love to enjoy and to try, try again. Speaking of inspiration:
Kait: What, or whom, inspired you to learn woodworking?
Art: I grew up in a house that was actually a woodshop the first few weeks of us living there. My father and grandfather are very accomplished carpenters and when I was born, they converted half of one of their woodshops into a kind of a quick throw-together house. I spent the first 13 years of my life with the other half of that building being a woodshop.
Kait: How were you introduced to TTRPG’s such as Dungeons & Dragons?
Art: I had played some minor games when I was younger, one or two tops. Nothing I would even really consider DnD as we play it today. I actually feel I got into DnD shortly after I started listening to the Critical Role podcast about 3 years ago. I was actually going to start making furniture until I really dove into their podcast.
Kait: Your dice trays are very versatile, user-friendly, and uniquely designed to be customizable for a variety of uses depending on a player’s need. What led you to be so considerate of players’ needs with your offerings instead of going with a stricter model like some other businesses?
Art: After deciding I’d like to pursue the world of TTRPG and Diceboxes I focused heavily on the consumers of my competitors’ products. Lurking in Facebook threads, Reddit posts, and just overall keeping my ears open. I wanted a product/system that left things open for people to have exactly what they want, and not get pigeonholed into what I felt they wanted. It makes things a bit more difficult on my end but only minimally.
Kait: Starting a small business is no small feat and it seems that you decided to go “all in” on your passion recently. What was the reason you decided to take the leap of faith into small business ownership?
Art: I spent a lot of time working in factory or warehouse settings. In every one of those roles, I was forced to do things that I found inefficient or inconsiderate to the environment, people, or people’s mental health. Late hours with no regard to my personal well-being. I needed to change.
Kait: How do you find the inspiration for your designs, particularly with your recent exploration into wood pressing?
Art: When I was trying to design a dice box that holds a lot of dice, so I really only had two options. Either I have to make one big tray that would be unwieldy and inconvenient to carry or move. Or I have to find a way to stack them. My first design for “stackable” boxes was actually heavily influenced by Bento boxes. I had some lunch boxes that were bento box styles/designs and it was the more appealing option. I spent over a year trying to figure out how I was going to make it work. Layers with legs, layers with gaskets. Nothing worked. I was actually laying in bed about to fall asleep when the idea of how they are today floated across my brain. It was 11:48 pm, and I got up right then and there and made one. Took me about 3 hours. But it was the first effective model of my stackable boxes.
Kait: What is your favorite wood(s) to work with so far? Which one(s) are you looking forward to try in the future?
Art: I don’t particularly have a favorite. They all had to pass my personal test of both pretty and structurally sound to ever even make it into my shop. The easiest one for me to work with by far is Cherry. It’s a light and forgiving wood that doesn’t fail often.
As far as one I’m looking forward to in the future. I already have it in the shop! I am already in the process of making it into a DM shield. Keep your eyes open 🙂
Kait: When it comes to creating hand-crafted items many folks are not aware of how much time, talent, equipment, learning, practice, and effort goes into creating hand-made goods. How do you think we as creators could help customers and clients understand just how much goes into hand-crafting work and why quality products are worth every penny they invest?
Art: Mostly by showing them our failures. Who, how, why. We learn through failure. Rarely do we stumble upon a victory in the first wave. It’s through our failures and our mistakes that we make our biggest strides.
Kait: Do you plan on expanding your knowledge and offerings as your support grows or will you remain focused on adding additional quality to your dice trays and boxes with a variety of new styles and inner workings?
Art: Right now my shop is very basic and…shoddy for a lack of a better word. Most of the reason why I haven’t done any build videos is because I’m slightly embarrassed about the state of my shop as it currently sits. I started with almost nothing as far as tools. And I have been spending every single ounce of my spare money sinking it into upgrades for that. A lot of my methods are unorthodox and sometimes dangerous, and people don’t take kindly to that sort of thing on social media. and I agree. I don’t want to be the reason someone tried something dangerous and got hurt. I remember running a table saw for the first time at the age of 7. Not many people start out life with that kind of experience.
Kait: What new projects and/or designs are you looking forward to releasing in the near future?
Art: I’d like to develop a dice tower that’s easier for me to produce and is less fragile. My current dice tower is far too hard to assemble and tends to break easily. I stopped offering them mostly because of the latter. I don’t like putting out products that lack quality or longevity.
Kait: Though running your own business is extremely time-consuming, what do you like to do in your spare time?
Art: I’m a gamer. Always have been, always will be. Though games seem to have lost a lot of their luster as I grow up. I find myself drawn far more to TTRPGS as they seem to always keep me on my toes and aren’t the same predictable grind fest that most games have turned into lately.
Kait: What are some of your favorite TTRPGs?
Art: So far I’ve really only got to try DnD. I’ve played some 3.5, AD&D, and 5e. I’ve got plenty of customers from Vampire the Masquerade. I think that game looks like it could be a lot of fun. But unfortunately, I haven’t gotten to play anything else. Haven’t been in the right place at the right time to pick up a group I suppose!
Kait: Your dice boxes account for mini’s which is quite literally a game-changer. What led you to make room for mini’s and additional dice sets in your boxes?
Art: Wyrmwood and Elderwood were around for a couple of years before I started. So part of it was keeping up with market standards. But mostly I wanted my boxes to be the answer to everyone’s needs. There are so many things that people ask me “Can this fit?” And I always feel a pang of regret when I have to tell them “no.” The most commonly asked-for thing is Spell Cards and a standard Deck of Cards. Which has led me to try and design more layouts for my boxes that can include those types of things for that style of gamer.
Kait: What inspired the name of your business?
Art: I enjoy warlocks so much in DnD. I will argue they’re being the best class with my last breath. My first character was a Hexblade Warlock named Torrin El. I wanted to feel like my business was a physical place. Hexwood is the name of a shop in my homebrew world. Ran by a Tiefling Hexblade named Salizar. The “Creations” part of the name came from necessity. Hexwood.com was already taken. And I didn’t wanna feel stuck making only DnD merchandise so it seemed like a perfect fit.
Kait: Has using social media, such as TikTok, helped you to grow your business while also getting to know your community and followers better?
Art: TikTok is my main form of advertising currently (besides word of mouth). My sales peak hard when I have a video shown on there. I’m trying to get better about making that sort of content, but I struggle with my own personal convictions about social media and not knowing what kind of content is acceptable to my current audience.
Kait: Speaking of, where can fellow TTRPG lovers find you on social media and/or your online shop?
Art: My shop currently is at https://ko-fi.com/hexwood/shop
Most everywhere else it’s @HexwoodCreations (Facebook/Instagram) I’ve been slacking and realize I need to make a Twitter and figure out how to use it. It’s the one place I’ve never really bothered to gain any knowledge on.
Thank you to Art for sharing more about his journey and Hexwood Creations, as I shared before, be sure to check him out on TikTok (@hexwoodcreations) and give him a follow and some hearts! He is massively talented and we can not wait to continue following along with his journey.
Do you know any creators who love TTRPGs and may want to be featured on our Meet Your Makers series? Feel free to send us your recommendation(s) via email to Kait at email@example.com.