Born in Omaha, Nebraska in 1942, Steve’s early interest in woodworking led to a degree in Industrial Education from Iowa State University, followed by a 33-year career in industry and social services facilities management. Woodworking was a hobby, concentrating on furniture and clocks. In 1975, he read Dale Nish’s Creative Woodturning, which sparked what has become a passionate interest in artistic woodturning. By 1998 he was turning fulltime and in 2001 he and his wife Anne (1942-2019) added a studio to their Bettendorf, Iowa home.
Steve concentrates on developing intricate surface decoration using silver leaf, acrylics and ink on deep hollow vessels turned primarily of maple, walnut or cherry. His works are found in museums, galleries and collections from New York to California and have been featured in art and craft publications in the United States, England and Australia. The Cheongju International Craft Biennele in South Korea has exhibited his work three times and in 2003 awarded him a special citation.
He has taught and demonstrated in numerous art and craft schools, clubs, and symposiums for more than twenty years.
His work is in the permanent collections of four midwestern museums; the Cincinnatti Art Museum, and the Museum of Arts and Design in New York City. Among other books and magazines, he is included in the 2009 book Masters: Woodturning: Major Works by Leading Artists. Another book, Wood Art Today 2, published in 2010, features his newer ultra thin ‘Spool’ series. The latest book to include his work is Audacious: The Fine Art of Wood, published in 2015.
In 2006, DUMA hosted a solo exhibition of his work, titled, “Against the Grain: Contemporary Turned Wood Urns by Steve Sinner, and in 2018, the Figge Art Museum hosted a solo exhibition of his work titled, “Steve Sinner: Master Woodturner”.
In addition to woodturning, Steve plays bass clarinet in the Bettendorf Park Band, CASI New Horizons Band, Timber City Band, and the Quad City Wind Ensemble. He was a nationally certified fire service instructor and volunteer firefighter for over thirty years. His company, “Advanced Lathe Tools” manufactures and sells the tools he developed over the years to create deep hollow vessels.
As far back as I can remember, the process of making has fascinated me. All sorts of objects, from scooters to chessmen, came out of the basement workshop prior to high school. An appreciation of fine art and classical music began in high school, but I never dreamed of making art. A degree from Iowa State in Industrial Education – industrial option – and work in manufacturing followed.
Concentrating on furniture and clocks, making things continued as an avocation after college. A few neighbors and I built eleven fiberglass canoes in our garage one winter. In 1975, I obtained a copy of Dale Nish’s “Creative Woodturning”, which led to a near addiction with the subject. I resigned my day job in 1998 to create art full time.
The presence of order, repetition, efficiency, simplicity, and quality in my work are a reflection of my fascination with manufacturing processes. I also have sought to collaborate with gifted artists who are able to complement my desire to reflect our culture.
I owe the late Frank Sudol a debt of gratitude for his teachings and philosophies. They are evident in my work and my life. He made me comfortable with the idea of being an artist – something that was not easy for one with my background. Frank’s tutelage gave me permission to forge ahead and to experiment. That has resulted in the development of a number of new techniques, including both positive and negative images in patina on silver leaf. Most of these techniques have yet to be adopted by others, primarily due to their complexity, expense, and difficulty.
More recently, I have developed a second body of work based on very thin cylindrical turnings, usually pierced in complex designs.