VIDEO: Mike Snegg, now a master woodturner, will have more than 100 of his pieces shown at the Smithsonian Craft Show
Mike Snegg, master woodturner
Artist’s website: http://www.mikesneggbowls.com
Snegg’s work will be shown at the 38th annual Smithsonian Craft Show in April in Washington, D.C.
For more information, visit http://www.SmithsonianCraftShow.org
By age 62, Mike Snegg had already garnered more success than most in the world of business and real estate.
But when his father, an accomplished woodworker, passed away, Snegg’s life took on a new and unexpected dimension. His father had left him his entire wood shop, and, just for fun, Snegg started to tinker.
“I saw that my father had made a bowl, so I thought I’d try making a bowl,” said Snegg. “I made it on his crappy lathe, but I loved it. So I bought a new lathe and just started doing it.”
Soon Snegg was hooked. He bought books on woodturning and began investing in the best tools for his workshop on his property in Nevada City. Then he began taking classes and private lessons from master woodturners, such as Jerry Kermode of Sebastopol and Mike Jackofsky of San Diego, who specializes in making hollow vessels. He went on to spend a week working one-on-one with David Ellsworth of Quakertown, Pennsylvania, a woodturner who describes himself as a “wooden potter” of hollow vessels, and yet more time with Robin Clark, a renowned woodturner in Kauai.
It was in Hawaii that Snegg discovered he loved to work with Norfolk Island Pine, one of few trees whose branches grow symmetrically. Using dead and downed trees shipped to Nevada City, Snegg found the Norfolk Island Pine to be the perfect wood for making natural-edged bowls. Through making these pieces, he said, “the art lives on.”
While some of Snegg’s most prized pieces have been made from Norfolk Island Pine, others are turned from Black Walnut, Manzanita burl, Madrone and Black Oak, which are native to the Yuba River watershed.
“Spending private time with some of the world’s best woodturners made all the difference,” said Snegg. “It cut off about 10 years of experience I would have needed otherwise.”
“Every piece of wood has an image inside and it is my task as a wood sculptor to discover it,” writes Snegg in his artist’s statement. “Making bowls from trees is the discovery of that internal shape, which has grown in the wood for years, waiting to see light. I find growth rings and activity that tell the story about the life and history of the forest and the tree itself. To make a bowl or a piece of art from the log extends the life of the tree for others to enjoy.”
Broad Street and beyond
Snegg’s work as a lathe turner caught the eye of longtime friend and artist LeeAnn Brook, who owns LeeAnn Brook Fine Art Gallery & Studio in Nevada City. Seeing that Snegg’s handcrafted wooden vessels, Norfolk Island Pine live edge tables and totems would complement the nature-themed pieces featured in her gallery, she suggested a pop-up show. It was a hit, and for more than four years Snegg’s work has been shown regularly at Brook’s Broad Street gallery.
“After years of being successful in business, Mike loved being introduced as an artist for the first time,” said Brook. “He’s brought stature to the gallery since. He shows here exclusively — everything comes through us.”
Today, after roughly 10 years of honing his craft, Snegg has finally earned the ultimate feather in his cap. His work has been accepted into the 38th annual Smithsonian Craft Show, a juried show of fine American crafts, which features works from 121 artists representing all facets of contemporary craft and design. Snegg is one of 20 wood artists included in the exhibition. The works will be on display and for sale. The five-day event will take place April 22 through 26 at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C. Snegg, his wife, Nina, and a truck full of 125 bowls and one totem pole are soon to be headed east.
“One of the things I like most about woodturning is being alone in my shop — I’m not really that sociable,” said Snegg, with a laugh. “I love doing it, I’m not in it to make money. But I guess most of all I love knowing that people are enjoying my art.”
To contact Staff Writer Cory Fisher, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4203.
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