12 March 2012

Works of Functional Art Cascade From the Lathe of Woodturner, Steve Pritchard

Breathe deeply of the sweet stinging scent of freshly cut wood as it cascades in long shavings from the lathe of woodturner, Steve Pritchard.

An earthy aroma permeates the workshop this fine arts award winning woodturner uses to create his works of art that will one day be used as a utilitarian or decorative item.

Steve Pritchard’s love of the wood is evident in the expertly executed pieces of 3D art.

“We need to remember that the tree spent a lifetime developing its unique qualities and we should try to preserve rather than destroy the fruits of that effort,” Steve Pritchard said. He uses wood from trees that have fallen on their own or been cut down to make room for developments.

“While I know it's inevitable due to progress and our need for building materials, it always makes me sad to see a tree down regardless of the reason. They look like fallen soldiers forgotten on the battlefield. Woodturning is one of the few ways that we, as individuals, can preserve a little of a tree that once stood tall and proud and it's wonderful to be a part of that community”, said Steve Pritchard.

A woodturner is one who is involved in woodworking with a lathe. This requires the turning of wood to create an item, rather than holding the wood steady and turning or moving a tool to create an object. This art form has been around since the early Egyptians who had one to hold the wood and one to hold the tool.

There is much skill needed to be able to turn the wood to create an item. Vision and steady hands are required when the wood is being turned.

A spinning piece of wood can be unforgiving and one must be extremely skilled to know how to apply the pressure to cut and the exact spot to shave, or you will go from one design to a “redesign opportunity”.  

Steve has been turning wood for 12 years and only became serious about his previous hobby once he retired around 2008. He also enjoys painting and photography, but always returns to his first love, woodturning. He is a resident of Winston, Georgia and cannot think of a better place for woodturners than in the state of Georgia. “We have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to varieties of woods to work with,” Steve said.

He is a member of the American Association of Woodturners, a past president of the Georgia Association of Woodturners, a member of the Douglasville Artist’s Guild, the Carroll County Artist’s Guild and the South Cobb Arts Alliance. He has been selling online with Artfire since December of 2011, but has maintained a web presence for several years where he directed his clients to see previous galleries of his creations.

Steve works part-time professionally at his woodturning; he also participates in art festivals in his immediate area, does a few demonstrations and works on commissioned items.

His creative endeavors have brought him two first places in juried shows that were predominately fine art. His first places were for 3D art that normally do not place well in a fine art show.

The piece he can say is his favorite was one titled “Wrong Way Finnighan” and was his interpretation of the story of Wrong Way Corrigan, the pilot who was to fly from New York to Long Beach, but ended up in Ireland.

“Whimsical in nature, this piece was painted to mimic the light to dark depths of the ocean floor with pyrography fish swimming around”, Steve said. Of course, he added one fish that was going the “wrong direction”. The art of pyrography is when an artist burns their images into the wood, or in some cases, leather.

Steve Pritchard has an eye for 3D that helps him to visualize his creations before they are born from the wood in his hands. Even with an internal vision of what he would like to create, the wood may dictate something entirely different for him.

“Some of the best designs are those that the wood had something to say about it wants to be", Pritchard said. “Each piece is different and sometimes grain, texture, color, etc. dictate what can and can’t be done.”

He also said that when turning, your hands tell you when a piece is finished. “Wood is a material like no other and it will tell you, through your hands, what it is meant to be. Each time that happens, it is as if it were the first time and I am thankful that I am able to experience that moment again and again,” he says in his biography on Artfire.

Like “Wrong Way Finnighan”, Steve Pritchard enjoys stories about people and draws inspiration from those. He enjoys pieces that have stories behind them. He can be inspired by the endless inspiration of natural shapes, colors and textures and his favorite wood is the Bradford Pear Wood.

According to Steve Pritchard, this wood cuts like butter and allows him to do as he pleases. Although it is a bland wood, he enjoys coloring, carving and texturing it to get it to his final vision. Much like a blank canvas, the pear wood allows his creativity to express itself.

This beautiful and simple blue bowl is an example of Bradford Pear wood that Steve Pritchard has turned and then painted with two different colors of milk paint. Milk paint is considered safe, even for children and Steve Pritchard used several coats of salmon red, before adding soldier blue to the bowl. He then distressed it by sanding, giving it a fine worn and well-loved look. He has added decorative grooves into the rim and it has a beautifully ridged bottom.

“You’ll notice as you run your hands over it, you can feel the life in the wood. That pleasure will come to you each time you look at this item and each time you handle it. The milk paint is like no other finish I know. It produces a look and feel like no other finish,” Steve Pritchard said about this bowl.

This storm-damaged tree now lives on in an heirloom quality handmade bowl that can be used for generations to come.

Keeping with utilitarian works of art, this peppermill gives multi-grain a new meaning. Consisting of maple, cherry, walnut and ash, Steve Pritchard has artfully arranged the different woods in contrasting patterns to give this peppermill a visually appealing design. Not only is this mill beautifully turned with a smooth laminate surface, it is entirely functional for grinding fresh pepper for your salad. The chef specialties stainless steel grinding mechanism has a lifetime guarantee.

This peppermill is at home in any kitchen, since the wood is designed to complement any decor. Whether you have a gift that you need to give to a guy or a gal, this peppermill is perfect for any chef in training or anyone who loves to cook. In the hands of someone who loves the art of cooking, pepper is a versatile spice. In the hands of a woodturner, who loves the wood, the peppermill is an exquisite work of functional art.

Culinary graduates would love a peppermill as a graduation gift and Steve has many from which to choose.

 

When left alone to create, Steve Pritchard finds it easy to escape into the art of woodturning. He loves the hiss of the tool cutting wet wood and throwing ribbons of shavings around his shop, as opposed to the cutting of dry wood, which is hot and dusty work. The time he spends sanding, is also a time he uses to develop new ideas and projects.

Steve’s love of nature is also evident in his ornaments.

A popular piece that finds its’ way into many Artfire collections, this little birdhouse is the perfect gift for the bird lover in your family. You can just see the little bird flitting about on the tiny perch as this ornament adorns a desktop.

For the fashion conscious, Steve has created a collection of bangle bracelets that are both stylish and unique. The bracelet comes alive under his skilled hands and there will never be another bracelet like this.

 

You can find Steve Pritchard in his Artfire shop Steve Pritchard Woodturning

on his Facebook page

on Twitter

on his website http://www.stevepritchardwoodturning.com/

or blog http://www.stevepritchardwoodturning.com/blog/

When Steve Pritchard is not turning wood, he is watching racing or out enjoying a leisurely drive with his wife. They usually have no destination in mind and wander where the road takes them.

11 comments:

  1. Gorgeous work! Thank you so much for sharing!

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  2. Fascinating write up! My husband has worked on and off with wood for years now so I have a deep appreciation for the skills need to create such beauties as Steve does. Thank you for sharing this wonderful artist with us.

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  3. Excellent feature, Steve [and Julie]. Beautiful work.

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  4. Easy read. Great interview and i am totally loving those bangles. Goodluck.

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  5. That little birdhouse is on my list of gifts for my dad for Father's Day. I just love those bracelets Steve

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  6. My husband is a wood machinist and so I too have an appreciation of the skill involved in working with timber. Steve captures the natural beauty of the wood in each of his pieces and the finish he gives them is very attractive.

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  7. I love the acorn bird feeder! How cool is that!

    Great feature. Thanks for sharing!

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  8. Beautiful write-up! I love the Pepper mill!

    Cindy
    Cobalt Moon Jewelry

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  9. I've been admiring Steve's skill and talent for some time. Clearly, he has a knack for seeing what resides within the wood, working with it and making manifest something functional, whimsical, beautiful!

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  10. Absolutely gorgeous pieces. I love that Steve cares for the trees so much. You can really feel the emotion that goes into these pieces.

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