Nathanael Balon’s work as Woodsmithe speaks for itself. He creates beautiful objects ranging from shelving to tables, displays and small items. Each piece tells a story and creates an experience for people that interact with them. While we do love his work, we love his story even more. He’s taken a winding road to reach this point in his career, but it seems to be one that was worth taking.
He grew up in a small town in the Midwest, where residents had a pretty limited view of the world and opportunities available. In middle school, Nathanael and his fellow students were required to take tests that would determine which career path they should take. “If you were creative, you’d end up with two options,” Nathanael explained. His results always came back with “architect” topping the list.
He began to interview with local architects while in high school, and once he started really working with his hands, he knew he couldn’t return to the classroom.
Nathanel’s brother worked for a company building custom homes, and it was a seamless transition to work along with him. They built homes from scratch, handling everything aside from the mechanics. They built roofing, worked with dry wall, painted, installed wood floors—really, anything that needed to be done.
After two years with the company, he could build a home on his own from the ground up and had surpassed all of the men who had been his superiors.
A few years down the line, he moved to Philadelphia and responded to a vague Craigslist posting for a commercial construction job. One interview eventually lead to numerous top-secret security screenings and lie detector tests. Once he was in the clear, he was finally given a true job description—he’d be building classified spaces for the CIA.
This is when the story takes a few turns—he lost the job, a relationship ended and he rekindled his love for playing music. Does the name Sonny Moore ring a bell? Or perhaps Skrillex? If not, he’s the chart-topping electronic musician with an edgy hairdo. He and Nathanael became friends upon his move to the LA Arts District, and he started playing drums alongside him.
Burnt out on touring, he returned to wood working, but approached it with a more creative viewpoint. He’s worked with some of our favorite companies and organizations, such as Handsome Coffee Roasters and Falling Whistles to literally build their brand experiences.
The sign outside of his shop says “Together We Build” and the bold words hanging within the shop state “Do Good Work.” They’re two mottos that Nathanael and his team follow on a daily basis, while being great people too.
Nathanael is wearing the Crane in Mallard Green.
Photos by Collin Hughes