Sfirri, Mark - Woodworker Print

Mark Sfirri

BORN: August 1, 1952, Chester, Pennsylvania

My mentor said that the lathe is a very creative tool that most people don’t use that way. They make bowls and spindles and that’s it. So I thought I should really try to do something here.



Woodworker Mark Sfirri continually blurs the line separating woodturning from sculpture. Sfirri, who earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Rhode Island School of Design in 1974, and his Master of Fine Arts from the same institution in 1978, was heavily influenced by his mentor Tage Frid, who encouraged the young Sfirri to use his primary tool, the lathe in new, creative ways. Sfirri uses the lathe to create conventional bowls and spindles which he then manipulates using multi-centered spindles, and a series of crosscuts; the resulting pieces combine concave and convex surfaces with curvilinear contours. “As a furniture maker and sculptor much of my work centers around the wood lathe-turned object. Turned pieces sometimes turned on several different axes have allowed me to explore form in a spontaneous, mathematical, creative way.” Well known for his bold composition and meticulous attention to detail, Sfirri has collaborated on individual pieces with numerous other artists, including Michael Hosaluk and painter Robert Dodge.


Sfirri grew up in Middletown, Pennsylvania and studied fine arts at Penncrest. He attended the Rhode Island School of Design for his undergraduate and graduate degree. His first job was as an industrial designer but did not find it as creatively fulfilling. He has taught at Bucks County Community College since 1981 as an Associate Professor of Fine Woodworking.


Sfirri has published numerous articles in journals such as American Woodworker, and Fine Woodworking. Sfirri is a sought-after lecturer and has given talks all over the United States and the world. He has been a guest of the French government, giving three-week courses instructing French turners in the art of lathe turning and has been a guest speaker at the Association of Woodturners of Great Britain Conference at the University of Warwick.


He has a strong interest in the woodworker Wharton Esherick and has written many articles on the topic and has given lectures. His work has been reviewed and featured in Australian, British and Canadian publications and in many prominent newspapers and magazines in the United States. In 2012, he was the recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award from Collectors of Wood Art.