In North Carolina, self-taught wood artist George Peterson uses busted old skateboards to make striking textured art.
The artist: Born in Long Beach, CA, Peterson grew up in Bishop, a small town in the eastern Sierra Nevada mountains. At age 6, he stepped on to his first skateboard and remained an active skater, often building his own ramps.
After high school, where he discovered woodworking, Peterson briefly tried college but left to worked a series of odd jobs, including construction. He continued to develop his wood turning skills on the side.
At age 24, with a $4,000 savings, Peterson started his first shop and see where his art would take him. Twenty nine years later, the skateboarder turned award-winning wood sculptor is still at it.
The company/studio: Founded in 1992, Circle Factory is based in Brevard, NC. Peterson’s shop is located in an old church, a space he shares with several other artists.
The goods: Wooden bowls, turned stools and tables, sculpture made from solid wood and a variety of art made from recycled skateboards — scars, gouges and all.
- Wood from local tree trimmers.
- Recycled broken or discarded skateboards he buys for $5, mainly from Push skate shop in Asheville. Together, they created a recycling program that helps support a local skate park.
What’s popular: Bowls ($300 to $600) have been his bread and butter for years. Also carved skateboard ($600 each) art. Peterson has sold nearly 2,000 of them.
Other favorites: Wall pieces ($900 to $4,000) in earthy colors; solid wood sculptures ($1,200 and up); and turned tables ($750 to $3,000).
Fun or special requests: Many requests to turn a child’s beloved boards into art.
- African and Asian art.
- Contemporary wood artists, including David Nash, Mark Lindquist and the late Bob Stocksdale.
Big break (s): Many small breaks that keep gaining momentum, including:
- Meeting Carr McCuiston, owner of the Atlanta-based Signature shop, 25 years ago at the American Craft Council show.
“I loved the work the minute I saw it,” said McCuiston. “The immediacy, rawness, simplicity of form and the organic qualities were and continue to be enticing to me.
- Collaborations with the Blue Spiral 1 in Asheville; OK shop in Los Angeles; and Cargo in Toyama, Japan.
Claim to fame: The so-called apple bowl, a collaboration between Peterson and Larry Shaffer of the OK shop in Los Angeles.
The wooden bowl, filled with apples, was something of an icon in the (Obama) Oval Office.
The bowl was purchased through OK by LA-based designer Michael Smith, who was the Obamas interior designer.
Honors: Many over the years, including:
Having his big “Spiral” wall sculpture, made from recycled skateboards, purchased by the Asheville Art Museum. It is prominently displayed in the front window.
What’s next: Solo show “Shred, Grind, Carve” April 16-May 8 at Atlanta’s Signature shop and gallery (thesignatureshop.com)
Where to buy: At several galleries, including Blue Spiral 1 (bluespiral1.com) and Signature shop.
Get social at:
- Instagram: circlefactory
- Website: circlefactory.com