Chico father and son artists turn burnt wood into bowl business

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Red Bluff woodworking artists Bruce Reno and Chico’s son Matt Reno have turned a way they spend time together into a business.

The two repurposed burnt and damaged wood to create bowls, sculptures, and other items in Bruce Reno’s workshop.

“Their work sells almost immediately (once it’s delivered),” said James Mazzotta, manager of Enjoy the Store in Reading.

Anna Austin, gallery manager at Fiennes Design & Deco in Chico, said bowls and vases are the best sellers. She said, “Their work is truly unique. People gravitate towards it. Their work tells a great story.”

Bruce Reno, 63, has been a woodworking artist since high school. In his teenage years, he did woodworking, carving, and furniture making. While supporting his family and working for an electric company, he put art on the back burner, doing woodworking only in his spare time.

Retiring in 2020, Bruce Reno was able to devote more time to his wood art. He makes vases, platters, urns, ornaments, boxes, sculptures and “whatever the tree gives us,” he said.

When Matt Reno isn’t working as a wildlife biologist, he works with his father to plan and create projects.

The bond he had with his father over making bowls was something he didn’t realize until 2016.

“My dad added a lathe to the shop, so I decided to give it a try,” said Matt Reno, 39. He “picked up an old piece of wood that was lying around the store.”

He said he was “amazed” by the grain, color and detail revealed by turning the wood. “I thought, ‘If this ordinary piece of scrap wood can turn into something so beautiful, what else is hidden in the other woods?’” I was hooked.

Father and son reuse wood from burnt wood, including campfire remains, trees toppled in storms, and old buildings.

Matt Reno said: “When you start working on a project, you never know exactly what you’re going to get. And when there are natural processes that add new elements to homogeneous wood, like fire, fungal rot, cracks, and insect activity, becomes even better.”

It is said that working together in the art business has brought the two closer together.

“When Matthew was young, we spent a lot of time together hunting, hiking and camping,” Bruce Reno said. “Ever since he (has grown up), we haven’t been able to do that. Now spinning the firewood allows us to spend time together.”

Closeness doesn’t mean artistic differences don’t exist from time to time.

“We both have different ideas and can be very stubborn at times, especially if I focus too much on an idea,” Matt Reno said. “We remind ourselves that there is no right or wrong when it comes to art, except for safety (precautions) in the store.”

Bowls and vases range in price from $25 to $375. For more information, call Enjoy the Store at 530-298-9132 or Finds Design & Decor at 530-892-1905.

Jessica Skropanic is a features reporter for Record Searchlight/USA Today Network. She covers science, arts, social issues, and entertainment articles. Follow her on Twitter @RS_JSkropanic And even more Facebook.join jessica Get out!Norcal Recreation Facebook Group. To support and sustain this effort, Subscribe today. thank you.

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