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.

Candleholder (Tulips) – (1970s) –  craft glass – 8.25” x 5.25” x 6” – Steve made a series of such candleholders showcasing different flowers. (Catalog #025)
Box (Violets) – (1980’s) – craft glass – 2.75” x 8.25” x 6.75” – By the late 1980’s Steve’s craft glass work was winding down. Late pieces can be identified by extra dimensional glass work on the box lids. (Catalog #027)
Bandsaw box – (late 1970s/early 1980s) – cherry – 8.5” x 3.125” x 2.75” – This is a very early prototype “bandsaw box” – lots of experimentation, and some fabrication issues weren’t fully worked out yet. (Catalog #079)
Bandsaw box – (early 1980s) – cherry (?) – 10.375” x 3.5” x 2.25” – Steve made several variations of this type of box. He cut out the main shape from a single piece of wood, sliced out the various segments with his bandsaw, hollowed out the segments with a forstner bit, then reconnected everything with a dowel rod so that the grain matches up again. (Catalog #039)
Bud vase – (1980s – 1990s) – walnut – 4.875” x 1.5” x 1.5” – when he inherited his first lathe, much of his work consisted of small vases, a motif he often came back to for years. (Catalog #057)
Conical box – (1980s – 1990s) – walnut – 5.5” x 3.75” x 3.75” – Steve made a variety of lidded boxes with novel shapes that combined lathe techniques with the earlier bandsaw boxes. Collection of C.W. “Mike” Craychee Jr. (Catalog #044)
Vase – (1980s – 1990s) – cherry – 6.75” x 3.375” x 3.375” – Steve embraced imperfections in wood, and “happy accidents” often became key features. I don’t know if the warping/folding over that occurred here was intentional, but it was not unwelcome. (Catalog #012)
Vase – 2001 – cherry – 5.75” x 2.5” x 2.5” – Steve also made several vases where the profile was as simple as possible, letting the grain of the wood shine through. (Catalog #062)
Goblet – 2006 – cherry – 7.5” x 3” x 3” – Steve made many goblets that were never used as drinking vessels. This one has a scary/sad ghost face. (Catalog #082)
Vase – 2004 – cherry – 10.625” x 5” x 5” – Steve happened upon a great batch of cherry firewood, and he made a series of beautiful vases from it.  This particular vase was a wedding gift from dad to me and my wife, Katie Palumbo. (Catalog #006)
Vase – 2004 – cherry – 9.5” x 8.25” x 7” – Eventually, Steve obtained several lathes and was able to work on larger pieces. This is another example of his combining simple form with existing natural attributes. (Catalog #004)
Vase – 2002 – cherry – 8” x 8.25” x 8.25” – Another grain showcase – the grain on the right side is not unlike the atmosphere of Jupiter. (Catalog #050)
Vase – 2005 – walnut – 8.75” x 8.75” x 7.5” – A more abstract piece – Steve really loved showcasing burls and absences.
(Catalog #048)
Vase – (2000s) – cherry or maple? – 8.5” x 6.75” x 6.5” – Another of his more abstract pieces, embracing the void. (Catalog #054)
Bowl – 2005 – walnut – 4” x 7.5” x 7.5” – Often Steve would retain parts of the outer surfaces of wood and work that into the design. (Catalog #011)
Bowl – (2000s) – cherry – 3” x 12.375” x 12.25” – Steve made a series of such low profile bowls with voids. They often have a very complimentary warped shape. (Catalog #010)
Vase – (2000s) – cherry? – 10.125” x 4.75” x 3.25” – Another embrace of the void. (Catalog #068)
Vase – 2001 – cherry – 9.25” x 4.25” x 4.25” – This piece won a blue ribbon at the 2004 Garrett County (Maryland) Agricultural Fair for lathe woodworking. (Catalog #066)


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