Rigby man handcrafts one-of-a-kind wooden bowls
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RIGBY — Every day, retired Rigby resident Cleave Reddick heads to his shop to tinker with a little bit of this, and a little bit of that. He was never one to sit idly by when there was something new to learn.
Reddick has always loved woodworking. So a few years ago he attended a woodturners symposium in Utah. During the event, he showed up for a class he wanted to take, but didn’t realize the class had moved to a different room; as a result, Reddick accidently took another class about how to make “segmented wooden bowls.”
That accident turned into his latest obsession.
Now he spends about an hour a day working on his different creations. When Reddick goes out to his shop, he starts by choosing a segmented bowl design, then he starts cutting wood.
He uses a lot of cherry wood and maple wood, though his favorite wood is willow. At times Reddick also uses woods not found around Idaho or even in the U.S.
“I resisted exotic woods for so long,” he said. “They’re awfully spendy, but they make beautiful bowls.”
Choosing the right wood is actually one of the most important parts of the process, as some woods turn on the lathe better than others, and some woods take oil (he uses tung oil) better than others.
Segmented wood bowls are made one ring at a time by gluing small little pieces together and clamping them until the glue dries. It takes a bit of math to get so many pieces to fit together, and a lot of practice. But Reddick is always up for a challenge.
“It can be hard to get the pieces perfect,” Reddick explained. “A good carpenter can hide their mistakes.” Sometimes the bowl design unfolds as he is making it, but that’s all part of the fun.
Once all the rings of a bowl are ready, the rings are then glued to each other to make a complete bowl. Sanding the bowl on the lathe begins. It takes special sanding tools and a bit of finesse; but in the end, all the time and effort is worth it.
“You’ve really got to sand it at least three times to get it smooth,” he said.
After bowls are cleaned and oiled, they’re ready to show off. The one-of-a-kind bowls are truly pieces of art. Many people who buy his bowls use them as decorative pieces, but Reddick actually hopes they’ll get well used.
He uses his own bowls for berry picking; he also makes a Goldilocks popcorn bowl set for customers, and he also makes specialty yarn bowls. He sells some of his creations direct to customers, and he also has some for sale in a few stores in downtown Idaho Falls.
Besides his bowls, he also makes wooden “yarn buddies” especially for The Yarn Connection located in Idaho Falls. Yarn buddies work like a lazy Susan with a spindle on top—knitters can put a skein of yarn on it and the yarn spins as they knit.
“I can’t make enough of those,” he said.
When he’s not tinkering with different bowl designs, Reddick can be found making his own beer or wine, fishing, making Navajo rugs, and restoring a 1948 Jeep. Before retiring he worked for many years in the local construction industry, including restoration work on the Old Faithful Inn.
One thing Reddick believes in is passing on his knowledge to other artists. That’s why he loves being involved in the Idaho Art Lab in St. Anthony. It’s a not-for-profit education organization where all types of artists converge to develop their talents and educate others.
To meet artists like Reddick and tour the Idaho Art Lab’s community-use makerspace, check out the Big Art Expo on Oct. 21 from 2 to 6 p.m. at 2355 South Yellowstone Hwy in St. Anthony. You can also sign up for a workshop or rent equipment.
See the Idaho Art Lab on Facebook or the group’s website at www.idahoartlab.org for more information.