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Woodturning News: General News

CLARION-LEDGER: It's My Job: Woodworker (08/02/2016)

Wednesday, August 03, 2016   (0 Comments)
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CLARION-LEDGER: It's My Job: Woodworker (08/02/2016)

My name is Steve Windham, and I’m a woodworking craftsman and the owner of Windham’s Woodworks in Brandon. I create a variety of decorative and kitchen items out of cherry, walnut, oak and maple wood. I’m a fellow member of the Craftsmen's Guild of Mississippi and a member of the  American Association of Woodturners. My products can be found online at MississippiSpoon.etsy.com.

My father introduced me to woodworking when I was 10 years old. The first thing I made was a bird house, then a dog house. He taught me the basics of woodworking. Back then, we all had nothing but hand tools, no machines. I didn’t like to be defeated, so I worked at it until I got it right.

I graduated from St. Joe High School in Jackson in 1973, and worked for my mother’s business, Steve’s Auto Parts in Jackson, for 32 years. She opened her shop in 1968, and was a very smart woman. She knew all about the mechanics part of it and was very good at the business part, too. She told me the best way to get new customers is to keep the customers you’ve already got, and they’ll spread the word.

In 1994 we moved the auto parts business to Byram, then sold it in 2004 to Napa Auto Parts. That’s when I turned back to what I really loved, doing woodworking full time.

After we sold the business, I built a new house for my wife and me, and designed it so we live upstairs and my woodworking business is downstairs. I later built another shop for my woodturning.

I used to do furniture and outdoor benches, but now it’s wood turnings, bowls, peppermills and, of course, wooden spoons. The spoons have always been my best seller. Each spoon takes about two to three hours to make, and I do pretty close to 1,500 to 2,000 each year. My bowls are also popular. I make dough bowls — some people call them biscuit bowls; and salad bowls, which can be used for just about anything. I also sell a lot of cutting boards. Everything is food-safe.

I work seven days a week. On a typical day, I show up about 7 a.m., take off for lunch around 11:30, go back to work about 1 p.m., and work until around 5 or 6 — sometimes two or three hours longer if I need to finish a project.

I try to break my work up, so I may work on spoons for two weeks, then cutting boards for a while, then bowls and peppermills. I try to build a pretty good inventory, especially for the holidays.

Including the Jackson Farmer’s Market in the summer, I participate in about 35 or 40 shows each year in Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana. Among those are the Gumtree Festival in Tupelo; Double Decker Arts Festival in Oxford; Crosstie Arts and Jazz Festival in Cleveland; Jubilee Festival in Daphne, Alabama; Three Rivers Art Festival in Covington, Louisiana; Peter Anderson Festival in Ocean Springs; Melrose Arts and Crafts Festival in Natchitoches, Louisiana; the Arts and Crafts Festival in Fairhope, Alabama.

In the Jackson area, I always do the Chimneyville Crafts Festival and Handworks Holiday Market in Jackson.

Through the years, I’ve won numerous awards for my work at several of these festivals, including those in Tupelo, Oxford, Cleveland, Daphne and more. My work has been written about in the eat. drink. MISSISSIPPI magazine; AmericanStyle Magazine; Magnolia State of Mind magazine and Ridgeland Life magazine.

My work is also on exhibit at The Growth Alliance in West Point; the Meridian Council for the Arts and the Mississippi Crafts Center in Ridgeland. In 2007 two pieces were taken to Japan and given as gifts to the CEOs of Toyota and Nissan.

The thing I enjoy most about my work is coming up with an idea and building it, and seeing if the customers like it enough to buy it.

The biggest challenge about my work is getting up in the morning — but once I’m up, I’m gone!

View source and photos.

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