Interview with Momchil Dukanov – a woodworker & founder of Boaz for Maker’s Mark
This interview first appeared on Maker’s Mark’s blog in Bulgarian. You can read it here.
When Maker’s Mark® founder Bill Samuels passed the craft on to his son, his only advice was, “Keep the whiskey’s quality.” Could you introduce yourself in a few words and share what is important to maintaining quality in your craft?
I am Momchil, whom everyone calls Chocho. Half of my life has gone by like clockwork. I graduated from NSA (National School of Arts) “Prof. Veselin Stoyanov” – Rousse with piano. After that, NMA “Prof. Pancho Vladigerov” with majors “Sound Direction, Sound and Media Design” and “Music Pedagogy”. In the years since then, I have been involved in television and television advertising in general, and for nearly 7 years I have been studying impact cutting tools such as hammers, chisels, saws, and all their derivatives. After I stopped being actively involved in music, I felt the need to create art with my hands again, and so the craft came to me led by the desire to bring something better and more perfect out of myself every day. With that come difficulties, but as in music, so here persistence, drive, and dedication lead to results. For the craft, the most important thing is discipline and an open mind, which give you the opportunity to both create and perceive the beauty around you.
Maker’s Mark® was created by a family with the clear goal of creating an iconic bourbon that they themselves would love and share with friends. What is the story of Boaz Woodwork?
To be honest, the story is pretty similar. One morning I woke up and said to my wife, “Look, I know it won’t be easy, but I’m going to be a woodworker. I’m going to create a brand that makes boutique cutting boards that people love.” And she supported me. This is the most important thing for an artist. To be supported and relaxed to create. And she gives me exactly what I am grateful for every day. Much like the Samuels family, we first made a few boards for friends. They used them, liked them, and appreciated them, which made my work even better. I started creating new and better products.
How does it feel to create your work by hand?
I think the right word is harmony. The creations are a mirror of the master’s emotions. Each one is different and unique in itself. By creating with your hands, you give shape to your consciousness.
You are one of the few people who own a store at the legendary Samovodska Charshia in Veliko Tarnovo. Will you tell us how you managed to achieve it?
“Charshia” (A craftsmen’s quarter) is a magical place that everyone should go and experience. Purely administratively, there is nothing interesting in achieving this dream. Personality and effort are important there. It is a place for craftsmen. The uniqueness of the craft and the presence of a master’s certificate – they are leading. And the more effort a person puts into what he does, the more he appreciates it. There are no random people there. There are craftsmen who have invested in themselves and the craft, who keep it and build it to be there and pay it forward. To be represented in such a place that is full of history and aspiration is an honor for any craftsman. I am happy that I can call myself one of the masters of the “Charshia” and I will be a part of the history of this place.
You share that woodworking is a dream. How does a dream become a reality?
When it stops being a dream. When you step on it and set new dreams on its foundation to make it even bigger.
What stages did you go through to create Boaz Woodwork?
Boaz came spontaneously, as a change, but it was a well-thought-out marketing process. Contrary to the current trends that people much easier to buy from people, I decided to create a brand. This gave me the opportunity to position it high. Right from the start, I set a level and criteria that I strive to build upon. Everything was carefully considered. From the models and types of boards and other products to how the customer receives their shipment. I believe that people who read this and look at my products will feel exactly that. But getting a sturdy product that goes into use right away, doesn’t get splinters in your food, doesn’t dull your knives, is beautiful and becomes a topic of conversation at the table, isn’t always enough. Packaging was a major challenge. For this we created our own punch and design worthy of a Parisian boutique. Each element of the package is completely usable because there is nothing unnecessary in woodworking. The customer receives a solid and beautiful product, presented with attitude and style. This makes Boaz the perfect gift for almost any occasion, as evidenced by the fact that a huge number of people who have received my product as a gift come back to me to give a Boaz end grain cutting board to a loved one.
How would you compare craft work to working in large corporate businesses that you have previous experience with?
Freedom and responsibility. Freedom because you have your skills and your time. And responsibility – for the same reason. And anyone who envies me for this from the desk in his office should know that freedom is a duty that the craftsman cannot transfer to a colleague. The real 18-hour day starts when you work for yourself.
What are the biggest challenges facing Boaz Woodwork?
Boaz is a brand designed to be A Royal Warrant of Appointment. Brexit doesn’t help me much with that, but the goal remains. The development of new markets, as well as the development of existing and nearby markets, are challenges for everyone. For me, the most important thing is that from day one Boaz has been growing through word of mouth, which many big businesses can’t achieve for years.
Each Maker’s Mark® bottle is unique because it is hand dipped in our red wax, which is also one of our whiskey’s trademarks. Is each of your boards unique?
Yes. And it cannot be otherwise. The beauty of craft and woodworking is that no matter how many times you do something the same way, something new and unique always emerges. It is important to understand and feel the wood. You are the tool, not the wood, and you just have no choice but to comply with it.
What does the work and the craft you practice bring you?
Peace of mind. Peace of mind that my bread is in my own hands. And wherever I am, I can be useful.
A few tips that you would share with all people who would like to get into handicrafts?
First of all, I would advise them to check if they are dexterous. This is done by pouring Maker’s Mark® from one bottle to another without a funnel.
After they pass this test, I would say to them:
- Don’t be afraid.
- Not to leave work. Retraining as a craftsman significantly increases intra-family inflation.
- To work hard.
- To believe in themselves, but also to believe in others.
- To work hard.
- To create a product.
- To quit work.
- To work hard.
- To pass on the craft.
Just as Maker’s Mark® stands for the manual process of making our whiskey, so you stand for craftsmanship. What are the advantages of the manual process and why did you choose this difficult but enjoyable path?
When you buy something handmade by a craftsman, you’re not just buying an object. You buy years of experience. Years of trial and error. You buy his joys and deprivations. You buy the step of his pursuit of perfection. Or as one old craftsman said to a customer who claimed he wanted a lot of money for just 30 minutes of work
Son, it took me 40 years of work to be able to do this in 30 minutes.
What are favorite moments with a Maker’s Mark® cup?
They are exactly 46:
- Dusty workshop.
- Finished products.
- 6-46. And the remaining 40 grams Maker’s Mark® 46.
How does your day go?
Work, work, work.
Biggest difficulty you’ve encountered in the craft?
Have you tried working with African Ipe?
What are the skills you developed in the practice of the craft?
Craft teaches you to accept many things that we easily get mad at in life. For example, time. Just as a lump cannot be fully utilized, so you alone cannot fill your time and be satisfied. Righteousness, for example. We are forever talking about who is right, when and if. If the right angle in the craft is not set right from the start, then all the actions thereafter will become more and more crooked, each one building up to the last until you simply can’t tell what exactly is right, or if there is anything right at all. One has to lay one’s foundations right and continue so that one can be in peace with one’s self.
Three words to describe your work?
A gift. For. The people.
What motivates you the most at work?
The work itself. And that’s not going to expire any time soon.
And finally, how do you think a piece becomes remarkable?
When you know its craftsman.
Discover all masterpieces here.