A few months into his tenure as a Sequim artist with the Blue Whole Gallery, Christian Speidel, 60, finds the community and cooperative takes his work to a new level.
“There are some amazing artists here,” he said. “They push each other, and I feel pushed by them. In the first month here, I felt I had to step up.”
Speidel, a wood artist since his 20s, moved to Sequim May 2011, from Southern California after owning property here for years. At the suggestion of his wife, he petitioned to join the gallery in April and was accepted in May.
Speidel, an experienced bowl turner for three years prior, sold his functional wood bowls at craft fairs.
“It was a hobby but hundreds of retired guys do it,” he said.
“I felt limited by bowl turning. I just didn't want to go in that direction any more.”
Speidel went to woodworking after nearly 30 years in the production department of the newspaper industry. In Sequim, Speidel felt an urge to expand his repertoire to more decorative bowls, mosaics, and character and animals inspired carvings.
“I challenged myself to be a good turner and then to do fluted bowls and then to learn how to carve figures,” he said.
“I try to expand the medium I'm in and gain confidence with every piece I make. My first mosaic were terrible but the more you do the better you become.”
Speidel considers himself a folk artist with many of his pieces animals or characters.
“Everything for me is dictated by the wood,” he said.
One of his longest projects was born from a stump given to him by a friend.
“He said, it's either firewood or for Christian,” Speidel said.
The stump sat in his workspace for two years before Speidel realized that the stump reminded him of a rock.
“But what sits on a rock?” he asked.
Soon the “Octopus” was born. The uncharacteristically heavy item shows the creature wrapped around a rock with a shine from every angle.
This month, Speidel is the co-featured artist at the gallery with his work on display in the front window and throughout the business, 129 W. Washington Street, Sequim. For more information, visit www.bluewholegallery.com or call 681-6033.