Using local woods, North Carolina’s Steve Miller carves, burns and carefully applies layers of nuanced colors to create his highly textured hollow vessels and sculptures.
The artist: Born in Miami, Miller graduated from Florida International University and served 33 years with the Miami-Dade Police Department before retiring in 2007.
In the beginning: Miller started woodturning in 1998 after attending local art shows and talking to artists about the process. He joined the Miami-based South Florida Woodturners Guild, where he was mentored by many of its members.
Though he wishes he had start sooner, Miller has shortened his learning curve over the years by studying with various craftsman and taking workshops at schools like the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship in Maine and Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts. Miller will be a back at Arrowmont in November.
“In addition to the instruction, the exchange of ideas with fellow students is invaluable,” said Miller. “It also leads to new friendships with people from around the U.S. and other countries.”
The studio: A dedicated studio and display room in his home in Black Mountain. Built in 2009, the home and studio have beautiful views.
The goods & materials: Mostly highly embellished hollow vessels and wall hangings. Also a few decorative bowls and wine bottle stoppers, which have evolved into miniature sculptures.
Miller’s pieces, which are carved, burned or painted, are created from many local woods, including cherry, maple and poplar.
What’s popular: Organic colored vessels ($125 to $6,000, for large, heavily embellished pieces).
Other favorites: Wall hangings ($1,500 to $3,500). Because of the time and work involved he makes only one or two a year, typically on commission.
Favorite tools: Gouges, with which he uses to create the outside form of each vessel. Also hollowing tools to hollow out the interior of each piece.
Inspiration/influences: Jacques Vesery and Graeme Priddle, renowned woodturners who introduced him to organic sculptural forms. Also John Paul Fennell, a master wood artist and retired rocket scientist.
Special or unusual requests:
- A few years ago, Duke University asked him to create pieces as gifts for professors who were being granted tenure.
- A large number of Miller’s pieces are in a private collection of a doctor in Los Angeles. The collection grows, often by several pieces at a time, every year.
- Acceptance into the American Craft Council show in Atlanta in 2020, but Covid cancelled the show.
- Featured in Woodturning, the British magazine.
- A feature in “Asheville Made magazine and another feature in the German magazine Drechsler. “It is in German so I don’t know what they said about me,” said Miller.
- Two pages in the book, “Masters of Contemporary Wood Art.”
Awards: His first “Best of Show” and first place 3-D Award in Miami in 2005, both at the Pinecrest Gardens Fine Art Show.
What’s next: Craft Fair of the Southern Highlands in Asheville, July 15-18 (virtual) and Oct. 14-17 (in person).
Get social at:
- Facebook: natureturnswoodturning by stevemiller
- Instagram: naturesturn1