Come See Gus’ Katseyeanis Woodwork at Saturday’s Des Moines Farmers Market
Gus (aka Constantinos) Katseyeanis – okay, you can just call him ‘Gus’ – found himself out of work as a restaurant manager three years ago, so he began helping his Father-in-Law Richard Steppic around his Wood Turning Studio.
He had always been good with his hands but he had very little experience working with wood. His first lesson was literally “can you help me get this tree?” Richard is a kind of a purist who doesn’t just want to know everything about the wood – he wants to start with the tree. He can look at a round of wood and point out if the bark will fall off, what side was facing south, and the difference between wood from this tree and one that got watered and fertilized. He is an excellent teacher and a master of his craft, and Gus feels he is lucky to have had the opportunity to learn from him and share a studio.
As he worked through the process of taking the lumber from tree to finished product, he learned how to work with the unique local hardwoods they salvage for their stock. You could never walk into a Hardwood Supply and get Madrona, Mulberry or Horse Chestnut wood for example. In addition to the amazing variety, being able to control the milling and seasoning of the lumber lets them produce bowls of amazing size and quality. He thinks the most misunderstood aspect of their product is the value. Their wood bowls seem expensive compared to mass produced bowls from retail stores, but the quality there ranges from wood veneer over fiberglass to bowls made of equal amounts of tiny scraps of stained wood, or bamboo and glue. You never see a bowl from a single piece of hardwood. They offer their product for little more than what you would pay for the lumber it’s made of. They also give a lot of thought to the finish they use. Product testing for them includes having dinner and washing the dishes. It’s all part of finding out how the bowl will stand up to use, but you spend a lot of time thinking about what is safe for your kids to eat out of.
Gus’ daughter recently began her own exploration of woodturning with finger tops and magic wands, a product of her own designed owing to her following of Harry Potter. Their work is currently being showcased in the old Des Moines Theater by the Des Moines Art Commission. They have also won several awards the past few years including one of six “Best Of” ribbons at the Washington Wood Carvers Association last year. You can also find their product at the Made in Washington Stores in Bellevue and at the Airport as well as the gift shop at the Space Needle. They offer their work at several art and craft shows including the Seattle First Thursday Art Walk in Pioneer Square and the Best of the Northwest shows in the spring and fall (Nov. 16, 17, 18 ).