has never been able to get out of the woods. Whether it was spending summers growing
up on his grandfather's southern Illinois farm or studying bryology and ethnobotany
at Eastern Illinois University, the woods have always brought out the best in him.
After earning a B.S. and M.S. in Botany he chose to follow his heart back to his
grandfather's farm and pursue his art. Since 1977 he has developed a bandsaw box
technique to create his own style of sculptural yet functional boxes.
The band saw box technique Steven uses begins with a solid cross-section of a log
which is cut, shaped, and joined to form a container. He begins his boxes by collecting
logs of native red cedar, sassafras, cherry, hackberry, and black walnut. A cross-section
of the log is cut with the band saw into a freeform and abstract shaped box with
one or more functional compartments. Each piece has a solid back and may have a
special mechanism for opening the box's drawers.
His background in botany has influenced the design of his work. Many of the abstract
shapes he designs are reminiscent of the plant cell organelles he once studied.
Steven has participated in many of the nation's best juried craft fairs and art
exhibitions and has been recognized with many awards of excellence and merit awards.
I would venture to think that many of us do not realize that our coffee table was
once alive. After 35 years and thousands of boxes I have come to realize that my
most satisfying and successful pieces are the result of a process that begins with
that understanding and a personal relationship with the actual tree that becomes
the raw material for my boxes. Because I collect the logs that I work with, I know
the environment each grew in before it was bulldozed or blew over in a windstorm.
While I work the wood, I think about the living plant the tree once was. Its shape
and form, even the smell of the freshly cut wood, all influence the process. These
sensory reminders of the tree and its personal story provide not only inspiration
but purpose as I work the wood and remember the material that was once alive. When
the conditions are right and the communication between myself and the tree is complete,
the result is the rebirth of the wood into a work of beauty that moves and flows
with new life.