Mercantile Celebration Vendor Spotlight: Free State Bowls

Mercantile Celebration Vendor Spotlight: Free State Bowls

Steven Crawford is a specialty woodworker in Laurel, Mississippi. He creates designs with copper and wood, but he specializes in making wooden bowls for his business, Free State Bowls. His lathe work is unparalleled, and his bowls are popular for gifts and keepsakes around the south and the US. He takes great delight in creating new pieces, because he never knows what will happen or what he'll make from a specific piece of wood. 

Steven says, "It's like that saying, "Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're going to get." When you put a chunk of wood on the lathe, you never know what you're going to get. It could turn out to be beautiful with amazing wood grain, or it could just be simple. It's fun to see how they all turn out."

Steven appreciates the surprises of woodworking, but he didn't expect one of his bowls to put him in a life-threatening situation this past year.

In August of 2021, Steven was turning a new bowl in his personal woodshop. His wood supply had gotten wet from the night before, so he increased the speed of his lathe to dry the piece. Steven stepped away to the opposite side of the shop, and in just a few moments, the bowl launched across the shop and hit him. He doesn't remember the direct impact, but he remembers waking up, seeing his wife's expression of shock, and calling an ambulance.

Little did Steven know, he had suffered from a massive brain injury. He was airlifted to a major medical hospital and endured surgery that he wasn't likely to survive, but Steven is a self-proclaimed "hard-headed man." He made it through the surgery, and after a month in the intensive care unit, he went home. 

"They told me I wouldn't be able to walk until next year, but I got out in the yard and pushed myself to keep going. I'm blind in one of my eyes now, and that's been the hardest adjustment," Steven says.

Steven continues to make his wooden bowls despite what others might deem a forbidden hobby after his accident, but he says that woodworking has helped him heal. 

He says, "I wear protective gear, like a helmet and goggles, but I'm not scared. It's my little hobby, it's what I love to do, so I'm going to keep doing it for as long as I can." 

Steven has continued to heal and create at the same time. His excitement to make something new from this season of hardship is admirable. He is looking forward to joining the crew of Mississippi Makers for the Mercantile Fifth Anniversary Celebration. 

Support Steven and his beautiful woodworking this Saturday, December 4th!