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An Off-Beat, Off-Center Sort of Turner

Six times a year I write the “Great American Woodworker” profile for American Woodworker magazine—which means six times a year I get to interview some outrageously gifted and unique woodworker.

Mark Sfirri's "Rejects from the Bat Factory"

Mark Sfirri’s “Rejects from the Bat Factory”

The Feb/March issue of AW features the work of Mark Sfirri; a woodturner who has perfected multi-axis turning. Here’s the man and his work (and play).

Mark Sfirri

Mark Sfirri

Here’s an excerpt from the article.

While some of Mark’s pieces are meticulously planned, others are simply inspired. After turning a baseball bat for his son, for example, Mark began thinking about its elegant form and perfect engineering; about how every part-from the knob on the end through the slender handle to the meat of the barrel-was built for pure function. “I began thinking about what a perfect blank canvas this would be for multi-axis turning,” he says. Rejects From the Bat Factory has become one of Mark’s signature works. His rejected bats are tied in knots, double handled, curved, cut in half and comically indented. Mark’s brightly painted, cartoon-like food cans and containers combine the best of Andy Warhol and Popeye. His inspiration for them came during a teaching jaunt to France, where he became intrigued with container shapes and how to animate them while trying to decipher the labels. You gotta love a guy who creates a can of Fromage Wiz. Humor is a serious part of Mark’s work. “But, it’s not like I’m laughing the whole time I’m making things,” he says. “Creating the illusion is a very measured process.”

A hall table of an unusual bent
A hall table of an unusual bent
From Sfirri's lathe (and wild imagination)
From Sfirri’s lathe (and wild imagination)
Madonna and Child
Madonna and Child