How it Began
It all began on a Las Vegas trip to the NFR.
The past years Vierra has enjoyed turning natural edged bowls made from black walnut and redwood from the Northern California coast. These particular woods have bold, dramatic and unusual grain patterns that when turned, beckon the art enthusiast to enjoy the many dimensions of each piece. A finely finished piece of wood is wonderful to embrace and most pieces are so smooth they feel like warm glass, a joy to hold and caress.
Vierra has mastered his trade through trial and error as he is mainly self taught; however, he had the rare opportunity to study under three world acclaimed wood turners - Nick Cook at the Campbell School of Fine Arts in North Carolina, Mike Mahoney of rural Northern California, and Stuart Batty in Santa Rosa. “I am entranced as the wood’s character unveils itself during the turning process; I am always amazed as what Mother Nature has created”.
Raised on a farm in West Sacramento Vierra became a craftsman in his early years working in many artistic mediums: copper, leather, and wood. Since being raised on a working farm he also became a mechanic, welder, plumber, electrician, and carpenter as well as becoming adept at all the other trades necessary in keeping a farm running. Richard moved to Roseville twenty-five years ago and resides with his wife Karen on the greenbelt next to a creek thus the business name - Creekside Turnery.
On an annual trip to Las Vegas to the NFR, during idle hours, Vierra ventured into a woodworking store to take a pen making class. and this was just the beginning. A month later on Christmas Eve a truck arrived bearing his first lathe from Las Vegas. Richard quickly became enthralled with his new hobby and began turning out pens, pencils and letter openers.
Next he turned his attention to turning his "one-of-a-kind" wine stoppers made from Chardonnay grape stock he got from Bogle’s Winery in Clarksburg, where he at one time had been a wine maker. These unique wine stoppers have been made from carefully selected stock and their shape determined by the imperfections in the wood. These wine stoppers have become well known by wine connoisseurs.
Currently Richard’s work can be found in the Prentice Gallery, Mendocino and his studio in Roseville. Vierra’s interest naturally turned to bowls, vases, and unique vessels; he has become known for his unique artistry in wood as featured in local shows and galleries. The artist has worked with wood in a variety of challenges now for the past 35 years, constantly working to perfect and maximize the natural beauty of each commission.
I gather my wood from many sources; some is given to me, most has been purchased having been cut for clearing; but all wood I use is reclaimed wood. Once I have secured the wood it is cut into blocks suitable to be put on the lathe. If the wood is green, it has to be coated with a special sealant so it will not check while drying. Once it has dried, I rough turn the piece and then it goes into climate-controlled storage until sufficiently dried to approximately 8 – 10 percent moisture. Now it is ready for the for the second turning. At this point I decide how I will turn it according to type of wood, shape, its striations, characteristics, color, edging and any other significant features. Once I decide what form will best suit the piece I try to imagine what I want
it to look like once finished. I then start turning the outside to establish a rough form of the shape. When I am satisfied with the form, I start removing the inside being careful to make sure that the thickness is exactly the same throughout. When I am finally satisfied with the shape and form, I remove the piece from the lathe and begin the finishing process. The first step is sanding and sanding some more; this step is particularly important as the final finish will depend on its perfection. The last step is the finish; the type will be dependent on the variety of wood, the piece's use, and what I want for the final outcome; i.e., gloss, semi-gloss, natural or flat.