My father, Steven J. Craychee (1943-2009,) was a wood and glass artist who worked in Pittsburgh, PA. and Deep Creek Lake, MD. When my brother Geoff and I were growing up, dad was always working on something in our basement. Our house was filled with early 20th century wood furniture that he and my mom, Pam, would buy for pennies, and that he and my godfather, Bob Milligan, would expertly refinish. Steve made original craft glass objects from the 1970s into the early 1990s, and wood objects from the late 1970s until he was too ill to continue working. When his father (C.W. “Craych” Craychee Sr.) died in 1982, Steve inherited Craych’s wood lathe, and woodturning became Steve’s primary means of artistic production moving forward.
During his life, Steve exhibited and sold work infrequently, but his output was prolific. Much of his work was given to family and friends as gifts, and his reputation as a fine craftsman among those who knew him is well established. He signed and dated much of his work, but not all of it. However, any piece that didn’t end up in the fireplace (and there were many that did) was a piece he took great pride in.
Almost everything that Steve made was meant to be touched and used. He made vessels that were meant to be filled. Vases held flowers and magazines; boxes held jewelry, keys, old drivers licenses, pens, sunglasses and business cards; bowls held salads, fruit + vegetables, decorations and rocks; Goblets held stuff, but never really any liquid. Steve also made a variety of other useful things – furniture, spoons, tongs, spinning tops, rattles, kaleidoscopes, puzzles, etc. He rebuilt and re-caned dozens of chairs. But the making of vessels predominated.
The photos below represent an incomplete survey of some of Steve’s art. I’m building a comprehensive database of his work, so if you knew him and own a piece, please reach out to me via my contact page so I can add your piece to the list.
The vast majority of Steve’s early woodwork was made with regional hardwood he bought as firewood. Cherry was his mainstay, but he also frequently worked with walnut, maple, and oak. Eventually he began ordering more exotic hardwoods, especially those with pronounced burls, but he never abandoned the firewood staples. I am not a wood expert, and am guessing at what type of wood most of these are.