Master of Crafts — Brooklyn-born artist known for his wooden works | News, Sports, Jobs

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Mirror photo by Pat Keith/George Radeski shows wood turning at his Bedford Township home.

BEDFORD — George Radeski’s award-winning split-wood lathe is an intricate ode to trees, most of which are grown on his 45-acre property in Bedford Township and admired from afar. Carefully selected exotic woods are expertly mixed.

Radeski combines his love for trees, his understanding of how they grow and how they are cut down with his accumulated knowledge, skill, patience and artistic vision to create unique wooden bowls. , cutting boards, and award-winning lathes.

This rotating object has won awards at juried shows and been purchased for private collections and public museums on the East Coast and beyond. The Brooklyn-born Vietnam veteran, a vocational education teacher in New Jersey, and his wife of almost 53 years, Loretta, moved to Pennsylvania 22 years ago.

The 78-year-old Radeski has more than 200 lathes, ranging in height from 24 inches to 36 inches, featuring intricate patterns and a variety of woods in different colors and shades. In 1991 he was decorated with a 6-inch rotating tree on his Christmas tree at the White House. Others are housed in prominent collections across the United States, including the collection of the late Ethan Allen Co. co-founder Nathan Ansell. Radeski created this rotating object for Ansel’s Art Gallery. Mr. Radeski recalled that his largest work was a 4-foot-tall piece he designed for his art gallery at Mr. Ansel’s request to “take off his socks.” His work was also used in gallery advertisements.

“That was something. I remember lying on the lathe and having to take two steps to turn it off,” he said.

Mirror photo by Pat Keith / Loretta and her husband George Radeski watch one of his turning points in their Bedford Township home.

“That was huge,” Loretta said.

The rotating pieces resemble oversized vases with repeating patterns reminiscent of Native American, Greek, and Egyptian art. A feast for the eyes, this highly polished, satin-like surface is patterned and the warmth of the wood is palpable to the touch, a delight for the fingers. Fluted necks and carved decorations distinguish some pieces.

His large bowl and cutting board are beautiful, made to be used and food safe. He often gives them as gifts to friends and often buys them as wedding gifts. White oak and Brazilian cherry cutting boards sell for $155, and zebrawood and Brazilian cherry bowls sell for $250 to $350. The price of a fine art lathe ranges from $1,400 to $1,800. Each turn represents up to eight weeks of work.

“If you put a mirror on the inside, you’d see exactly the same thing. It’s not an inlay, it’s a segmentation,” Radeski said. “Woodworking has been a hobby of mine all my adult life. I started attending craft shows about 40 years ago.”

He is always looking for patterns for other art, such as pottery, and even everyday objects, such as blankets and sweaters.

“You have to be careful with that,” he said with a laugh about tailing someone in a sweater.

Turning No. 167 (he numbers each piece rather than naming them) is part of the Southwest Pennsylvania Arts Council 28th Annual Regional Juried Art Exhibition at the Southern Alleghenies Museum in Ligonier Valley It is exhibited at.

“George is an outstanding artist and a true master craftsman,” said Kristin Miller, Ligonier Valley Site Director and Education Coordinator. “George uses many different types of wood and creates a symphony of design in each piece. You can feel the emotion and passion that exudes from his work. George can embrace the raw, the harsh, and create amazing transformations through highly skilled craftsmanship. He has a real talent for making raw wood a specimen of warm, complex beauty.”

Radeski works with Penn State forestry experts to manage the land for oak, maple, ash, hickory and walnut. He has his own sawmill and controls how the wood is cut to bring out different characteristics and grain patterns. He also uses only ethical sources, customizing exotic woods such as rosewood, Gonzalo Alves, and bubinga from Brazil, and zebrawood from Africa.

Radeki credits Loretta’s marketing efforts for his success. Loretta uses his background as a writer and in marketing to promote George’s art. She will be responsible for show entry, photography, promotion, and related logistics.

In 1989, won first place at the New Rochelle (New York) Art Association Exhibition.

“It was made of rosewood,” Loretta recalls. “The judges said this was the first time in the organization’s 75-year history that first place had been awarded to a work other than an oil painting.”

The pieces are made in a large workshop behind the house.

“You need to understand how trees grow, how you cut them out of the tree and get them into practical use and applications, and you need to understand how the trees behave,” he said. Ta. “It takes a lot of knowledge to put 100 pieces of wood together and make it perfectly round, including adhesives, fixing methods, and angles. Most of the technical parts are self-taught. I’m a lifelong student of woodworking.”

He spent his working years teaching automotive and diesel mechanics at trade schools. Former student William Walker, 43, of El Paso, Texas, reunited with Radeski about a year ago after searching for her on the Internet because he wanted to thank her for the change he had made in his life. did. Walker didn’t know about Radeski’s passion for woodworking.

“The level, complexity and detail of his work is truly incredible,” Walker said. “He’s just amazing, and it’s incredible that he’s self-taught. He built the house and all the furniture himself. It looks like it came out of a high-end showroom. The workshop is set up perfectly.”

But Walker’s praise goes far beyond Radeski’s art skills.

“He’s just great,” Walker said. “As a kid, I didn’t realize how much he cared and helped me succeed in his life.”

When Walker’s store teacher became ill, his class was absorbed into Radeski’s class.

“We were far behind compared to his class. His class was doing everything. He got us up to speed in about two months.” He said.

When Walker graduated in 1999, he left with two industry certifications and was able to make an extra $2 an hour at his first job. But Radeski taught him much more than just being an auto mechanic, teaching him how to take responsibility for his actions, how to have a good work ethic, how to write a resume, and how to get and keep a job.

Radeski still delights in telling stories in his thick Brooklyn accent, including how he first met Ansell, the late Ethan Allen Company founder, at a museum exhibit.

“It was a very quiet day. In fact, it was a little on the boring side. I was sitting there when this older guy came in,” Radeski said of Ansel. “He was walking around with an Instamatic camera around his neck. He was walking with a cane and was limping. I think I nodded off… so he rattled a chair with his cane. He says, “What do you want from everything?” I wasn’t ready for that question. So he said he would come back. ”

Although skeptical that the man would return, Radeski put a price on his work, and when Ansel returned, they both wrote down the asking price and decided to toss a coin. Radeski won.

“I don’t know if we agreed on his price or mine, but the difference was only $500. Please take it to , and they will ship it to you. I looked at the card and said, “You should have shown me the card before I wrote the price.” ”

This interaction marked the beginning of a friendship, including inviting the Radeskis to their home and facility in Ansell, Connecticut, and having many phone conversations.

When Radeski was featured on the TV show, Ansel also joined in to talk about his work.

Anchel is quoted on Radeski’s website, where his wood lathes, bowls and cutting boards are sold, and describes Radeski as “one of the most creative and imaginative wood artists I’ve ever come across.” doing. The architectural structure, color arrangement, and the way George assembles his pieces demonstrate his great talent for creating art. ”

For more information about Radeschi’s work, please visit www.georgeradeschi.com.


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