Amer­i­can Craft Week rec­og­nizes Queen­stown artisan

Record Observer - - Front Page - By HAN­NAH COMBS hcombs@kibay­

QUEEN­STOWN — Lo­cal artisan Michael V. Pivec of Queen­stown has been rec­og­nized as an ex­cep­tional craftsper­son un­der the age of 30 by Amer­i­can Craft Week. Now in its sev­enth year, Amer­i­can Craft Week is the na­tion’s largest cel­e­bra­tion of hand­made Amer­i­can craft. It will take place this Oct. 1–16 in gal­leries, fes­ti­vals, mu­se­ums, li­braries and artist stu­dios across the coun­try.

For its 2016 artist fo­cus, Amer­i­can Craft Week chose to search for ex­cep­tional crafts­peo­ple un­der the age of 30. The 30 win­ners, in­clud­ing Pivec, com­prise the spot­light ex­hibit, “Ris­ing Stars.” Amer­i­can Craft Week said the pur­pose of this year’s artist fo­cus was to dis­cover great craft and fos­ter the ca­reers of tal­ented and cre­ative artists.

When mak­ing their se­lec­tion the ACW Na­tional Com­mit­tee looked for th­ese char­ac­ter­is­tics: ex­cel­lence in de­sign and skill level, an im­pres­sive body of work, a strong com­mit­ment to work­ing as a craftsper­son, work ex­hib­ited and/or of­fered for sale to the pub­lic, and a com­mit­ment to com­mu­nity and so­cial val­ues.

Pivec grad­u­ated from Kent Is­land High School with a com­pleted clus­ter in fine art, which in­cluded a pri­mary fo­cus in clay works and sculp­ture, but said he had no for­mal school­ing in the art of wood craft. His de­sire to work with his hands landed him in the plumb­ing and car­pen­try trades, and he learned plumb­ing skills through vo­ca­tional train­ing at KIHS.

Af­ter high school, Pivec be­gan work for PRS Gui­tars, in the Ch­e­sa­peake Bay Busi­ness Park, where he was trained in the craft of gui­tar mak­ing. It was here that he was in­tro­duced to the “artsy side of wood work,” Pivec said, ad­ding that it was how he fell in love with work­ing with the fine woods and de­cided to branch out on his own.

He is self-taught in lathe turn­ing, and most re­cently has be­gun wood carv­ing. Pivec’s com­pany, MVP Wood­crafts, cre­ates each de­sign, each con­cept, from start to fin­ish.

MVP does not use pur­chased seg­mented blanks, only re­cy­cled rare woods and wood from trees har­vested in Mary­land that in­cludes wal­nuts, Osage or­ange and cherry.

Pivec said he uses as much re­claimed wood as pos­si­ble and has even cre­ated de­signs from old, cast-off wood fur­ni­ture.

For na­tive Mary­land wood, Pivec has a re­source that is close to home. His brother is an ar­borist and is con­stantly on the look out for un­usual pieces that Pivec might be able to craft. Th­ese nat­u­ral re­sources that could have ended up as waste or in a chip­per cre­atively come to­gether to make func­tional art, said Pivec.

Pivec, 28, is the son of Michael and Barb Pivec, also of Queen­stown. His nat­u­ral tal­ent and full-time ca­reer as an artisan is, he said, in part a trib­ute to the lega­cies of his great-grandfather, Ed­ward L. Chris­tle, an artist at the Bal­ti­more Sun, and his grandfather, Harry W (Bud) Shen­ton Jr. a Re­al­tor and real es­tate ap­praiser who was once a wood shop teacher.

Pivec said cherry burl is one of his fa­vorite woods to build with. Burl is a rare in­stance in a tree that cre­ates a unique pat­tern, ex­plained Pivec. Of­ten he chooses to show­case the burl in a bowl or flower vase.

Pivec’s salt wells — a small bowl­shaped ob­ject with fit­ted lid — are by far the most pop­u­lar item he sells, but he also crafts mugs, kitchen uten­sils, rings and ban­gles, wine stoppers and jew­elry boxes to name a few. Oc­ca­sion­ally, a piece will fea­ture an in­lay of turquoise, a unique and un­ex­pected bal­ance to the wood, he said.

Pivec spends three to four days each week in his wood shop, craft­ing and cre­at­ing the pieces he will sell. The rest of the week, he said, he spends with part­ner Ash­ley Gar­land, also an artist, sell­ing their goods at fairs, fes­ti­vals and farm­ers mar­kets across Mary­land.

Pivec said he and Gar­land have worked to­gether on projects, and “we re­ally com­ple­ment each other.” Their work to­gether is mar­keted un­der the name Re­turn­ing Tide.

MVP Wood­crafts has been hon­ored as the 2015 lo­cal artisan — Queen Anne’s County — to pro­vide the Sto­ries of the Ch­e­sa­peake Awards and is also a ju­ried artist in many shows on the Eastern Shore, in­clud­ing the 2015 Academy Art Mu­seum Craft Show.

Con­grat­u­lat­ing the win­ners, Amer­i­can Craft Week said of the 30 artists rec­og­nized, “Their works are an out­stand­ing tes­ti­mony to the promis­ing fu­ture of hand­made Amer­i­can craft .... Join us in en­cour­ag­ing and sup­port­ing the young artists in all our com­mu­ni­ties.”

To sup­port th­ese artists or learn more, visit amer­i­can­ Pivec’s work can be found on In­sta­gram and on Face­book at MVP Wood­crafts and Re­turn­ing Tide.


Michael V. Pivec and part­ner Ash­ley Gar­land.


The per­fect ac­ces­sory for a lo­cally crafted brew, one of Michael Pivec’s mugs.


Hand crafted wine stoppers fea­ture one of Michael Pivec’s fa­vorite ma­te­ri­als to work with, cherry burl.

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