Community

Celebrating The Life Of Community Member Jeremy ‘Aaron’ Mattia

08.17.2021

It is with great sadness that we share the passing of maker, mentor, Myth Buster, and friend, Jeremy ‘Aaron’ Mattia. Since his passing last week, friends and colleagues have been sharing stories of how Aaron impacted their lives and the maker community at large. He will be dearly missed here at The Crucible and by so many around the world.

celebrating aaron mattia
Aaron during Pen In One Day, one of the many classes he took at The Crucible.

The life and impact of a maker

Almost ten years ago, Aaron first came to The Crucible as a volunteer, sharing his wealth of knowledge with makers young and old. He quickly became a fixture of the studio, taking a number of classes and renting an on-site studio. “Aaron was known for his willingness to help others,” shared friend and colleague Celeste Flores. “Quietly caring for others by gifting things to them, giving them a ride or a hand—he was always happy to help and looked for no recognition for his kind deeds.”

A few years later, in 2016, Aaron began teaching in our Leather, Textiles, & Fine Art department where he eventually assumed the role of Department Head. He went on to teach in Foundry, Machine Shop, and Woodworking. Aaron taught dozens of classes and workshops from 2016-2019 before moving cross-country to New York state.

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celebrating aaron mattia
celebrating aaron mattia
celebrating aaron mattia
Photos by Mark Adams

Aaron had an impressive career outside The Crucible as well. Before dedicating his life to fabrication and making, he served 10 years as a US Marine, including two tours in Afghanistan. He later helped build a number of pieces for the MythBusters team, proudly sharing on his Instagram that, “Most of the things I’ve made got blown up on TV.”

Over the past few years, he worked as the shop manager for the well-known maker and YouTuber, Jimmy DiResta who shared a moving tribute to Aaron on his podcast Making It, and via Instagram. He wrote, “[Aaron] was a great guy that wanted to see everybody succeed. He was a problem solver. He was an organizer and at heart, he was an artist trying to figure out his place in the world…Aaron, I love you and I miss you already.

The community remebers Aaron

Aaron loved the maker community and was at home in the shop. He was a great guy that wanted to see everybody succeed. He was a problem solver he was an organizer and at heart he was an artist trying to figure out his place in the world. He was so proud of his part behind the scenes on Myth Busters often talked about how Jamie Hyneman he was a big inspiration to him. And how being on the show team inspired him. I met him when he came to one of the welding classes three years ago and was talking about how he was unhappy in San Francisco. I invited him to come live in East Durham I told him he could use my shop… he arrived in NY the week of the first maker camp. Shortly after that he became integrated into the shop… it was like he was always there.. picking up after me, organizing my mess and making the place better for everybody here…He told me to think of myself as a jet pilot and that he was a jet mechanic. He was proud to make sure all my crazy old machines worked and always figured out that one missing part… Aaron proudly served 10 years as a US Marine and spent time in Afghanistan. he was proud of his service and I was proud to know him. Aaron I love you and I miss you already. RIP. He would have been 48 this October.

Jimmy Diresta

Aaron began volunteering at The Crucible almost a decade ago. He was a reliable worker in the tool room and quickly became a fixture in classes and around the shop. He became a studio renter and an instructor, at one point running the leatherworking department and working as a TA in the woodturning class. Aaron moved to New York and became the shop manager for the well-known maker and You Tuber Jimmy diResta. Aaron was known for his willingness to help others. Quietly caring for others by gifting things to them, giving them a ride or a hand. He was always happy to help and looked for no recognition for his kind deeds.

Celeste Flores

Aaron was always on top or ahead of the issues at hand. No shop problem could ever pass him by without being resolved. He made life easier and more efficient for everyone around him. I’ll miss the times at lunch we had eating our sandwiches from the Milk Run going on and on about the next random topic of the day, picking apart its meaning and history or laughing about the absurd ideas we came up with… A pizza cutter with a nitro RC motor… It was genius! 🍕 😂 He had some small bit of childish humor we shared that I really enjoyed. He has influenced many more people than he ever could have known. For that, I am happy to have known Aaron and will take his lessons and knowledge he has passed onto me forever. Thank you for everything Aaron. Rest easy my friend.

Rob Rojas

Aaron and I would talk about how to bring making/art to vets that have so much to deal with and how it helped him with his experiences in the service. Aaron loved making and loved his tools. They are the channel that he used to heal himself. He was a master of so much more than he thought of himself. Aaron was a person I aspired to emulate in my own life.

Rikki Smeltzer

Jeremy Aaron Mattia was one of the first people I met when I came to The Crucible in 2018. He was a gentle guy, but so passionate about the industrial arts, sharing knowledge and supporting others at The Crucible. He had a wry sense of humor and was great to talk with. I am so sad to hear of his passing.

Susan Mernit

The maker community lost an incredible person this week. I met Aaron on the set of a show at Jimmy Diresta’s farm, and he and I worked extremely closely for four months, 12+ hours a day…Aaron absolutely loved the maker community and said “makers are my people.” He was an incredible guy that wanted to see everybody succeed.  Aaron was the kind of guy you can say “I need this” or “I need this done” and it would be found, or it would get done come hell or high water.
He was incredibly proud (as he should have been) in his part behind the scenes on Myth Busters. Aaron was the one who built most of the iconic Mythbusters contraptions that you can remember, while his contemporaries did the easy work on screen. Being on the show team inspired him, and getting to work with someone who built part of what inspired me to be a maker was a privilege that few can claim. He was an absolute sponge of knowledge and was constantly reading through manuals from front to back, and could fix most machines in his sleep. He was a jet mechanic in the military and his tool discipline and organization were second to none. He served 10 years in the Marines in Afghanistan and was proud to do so. When I worked with him on set, he was an incredible sounding board and fabricator, helping me finish projects and source ridiculous materials in extremely short notice, like field marking chalk. He taught me to always tip your delivery drivers, and things will always be on time. Everyone in the community around East Durham knew him and loved seeing him go to the Milk Run for the same exact lunch every single day. I truly wish I had had more time to learn from him. I only knew him for a short time but can count him as a close friend. Rest in Peace Aaron.

Jacob La Rocca

[On taking Aaron’s portrait] When he first stood before me, I saw someone who wasn’t entirely comfortable being the focus. But, I could also see someone looking out into the world searching for connection; quiet, noticing what others needed. I am grateful that he took a moment to be recorded and known. I truly hope he felt seen. Aaron, you enriched the lives of the people you touched, no matter how briefly.

Mark Adams

Aaron was a true problem solver. Aaron just wanted to share his knowledge with the world. I met Aaron on Clubhouse in the “In the Shop” club… like some of you also did. We would spend hours on there talking about making stuff, fixing stuff, we would talk about what some aspirations were. He would share with me some of the cool stuff that he had done in his time on this earth… He would check in on me from time to time and I with him. He just cared. He was a genuine and kind soul. He wanted to make this world a better place. He wanted to foster an environment for learning. He was the person who always made sure that everything moved smoothly behind the scenes. He would be prepared for things that some people never would have foreseen. He just always thought 10 steps ahead. His intelligence was mind-blowing.

I’m thankful that I got to meet Aaron in person. He gave the most wonderful hugs. I’m thankful that I had the opportunity to call him a friend. I’m sad I didn’t get to tell him how grateful that I was for everything that he helped me with. I wish I could have told him how thankful I was for his friendship. For always sharing his worldly advice. He was always there for me, willing to help me figure life out. He was a genuine, kind soul.

Aaron was always the guy to help people. If there’s anything we can take away from the time he spent on this earth, it’s for us to continue to share knowledge. We have to continue to support each other. I’m going to miss him dearly. Rest In Peace my friend.

Dre

You have been one of the brightest lights in my life. Whether you were sharing sage shop advice, an amazing bear hug (you gave the greatest hugs) or a sentimental story, it was always a joy to be around you. Even though you were so far away, it filled my life with true joy seeing you so happy these last few years in the upstate with your family and our friend Jimmy. I know it meant a lot to them as well to have you around. You are one of the kindest humans I have had the joy of working with and one of my truest friends. The #mythbusters family is less with you gone. I am grateful for every moment, build, hug and laugh we shared.

Tamara Robertson

Celebrating Aaron’s life

Celeste is organizing a memorial to be held at The Crucible later this week. Please find event details below and if you have stories or photos you’d like to share ahead of the event, please email them to Celeste

You are invited to a gathering at The Crucible to remember the life of Jeremy ‘Aaron’ Mattia. There will be a light serving of food and drinks provided. An RSVP is appreciated for headcount. Please bring your memories of Aaron with you. 

Friday, August 20, 6-8pm
The Crucible, Oakland
Masks are required

RSVP For Aaron’s Memorial Gathering

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