Mike Quattrociocchi

by Dana Kester-McCabe

Mike Quattrociocchi was introduced to woodworking at a very young age. When he was nine, his father and his uncles fixed up a barn for their use as a woodworking shop. They taught him the basics and he has been creating things ever since.

Mike went to college and then started his own carpentry business. When he got ready to start a family he went back to graduate school so he could earn more money. He got his master's degree from Syracuse University and began a career in computer based training. For twenty-five years he worked for GE and Lockheed Martin.

A trip to the Eastern Shore provided an opportunity to explore potential places to retire. He and his wife chose Milford, Delaware, which is where he makes and shows his work now. The home has beautiful hand built cabinetry which Mike fashioned in the Mission style. I visited Mike there recently and he explained how he came to love that school of design.

Mike Quattrociocchi:
"We actually lived in Manlius, New York for many years. And, in Manlius was the Stickley furniture factory. You know, Stickley was a tremendous boon to the furniture business. He developed this Art and Crafts furniture. I am sure everybody has heard of Stickley by this time. And I fell in love with this Arts and Crafts mission sort of style."

"So if you look at any of the boxes I am doing now you can see this sweeping designs, very simple but sweeping designs. I love the natural look of the wood, the natural figure. And, that really influences what I build. Sometimes I'll see a piece of wood and I just like the figure so much that I know this is going to be something. I don't know what it's going to be yet. SO it might sit on a shelf. And, there are things that have sat there for three years. Then finally I figure out what kind of project I am going to incorporate that piece of wood in."

"Um, if I can get the quote right, and it is a quote from Michael Angelo, and I kind of use it for the woodworking. And his quote was something like "Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it's the sculptor's task to bring out that statue." And I know I didn't say it quite right. I feel like woodworking is the same for me. Uh, I see these figures and the natural grains and colors in the wood. And that kind of speaks to me and influences how I design things or what I design."

Since coming to Delaware Mike has flourished as an artist.

Mike Quattrociocchi:
"Delaware's been really great to me as far as an artist goes. Um, It's kind of a small state, but it feels like a big city. The whole state feels like a big city. I got to know a lot of people. I got involved in the Mispillion Art League, the Rehoboth Art League, the Biggs Museum. And a new gallery in downtown Milford called Gallery 37. And it afforded me some real recognition."

Mike has won numerous awards and was recently asked to join the Delaware State Arts Council, and was given the prestigious commission of creating one of a kind boxes to be given as special awards by Delaware's Governor.

Mike's creations are incredibly elegant works of art. You can see the influence of working with computers in the precision of his designs. He uses a combination of hand and power tools to achieve near perfect joinery. But his method does not lead to sterile or cold compositions.

Mike Quattrociocchi:
"I think my approach is kind of twofold. Many times I do want to create something that expresses an idea or an emotion. So, about two years ago I did this drawing of a box that actually had some eyes peering out of it. So I said I am going to make a box and I'm going to call it 'Addiction', where there is this figure and this hand in a box that is trying to get out. But they're stuck in the box and can't get out. And I thought that is how a lot of people feel about certain things. You know, maybe a relationship, or a bad job, or whatever, they can't get out of. So, I eventually changed the name to 'Trapped' because it could apply to anything not just an addiction. So, that was kind of one idea that I really wanted to build a box to express that emotion."

"Sometimes there are hidden things that you don't actually see about the object that I make. It's uh, hidden. Like, I make this secret bottom box. It's a jewelry box but there is a hidden compartment in the bottom. Or a slide lock box, that you can't really tell that it has a lock. So, you have to show people how to open it."

"Or, some of the deigns, I have this box called 'Point of View'. I actually inlaid some eyes on the box. And as it turns out, if you look at the eyes from one directions they have a startled look to them. And, if you turn the box around and look at them from another direction they look soulful. So it is 'Point of View'. It depends on how you look at it."

If you will pardon the pun Mike's artistry has really been engrained in him his whole life starting with his last name.

Mike Quattrociocchi:
"You know its Italian: Quattrociocchi. Quattrociocchi, you know in Italian. When we went to Italy we asked "What exactly does that mean?" because occhi means eyes, and quarto obviously means four. But this has a c-i in it. And actually there are two definitions for it. One is 'four big curls'. And the other is 'four big logs'. So obviously, I am a woodworker, so it's gotta be 'four big logs'. So, that's what the name means."

"What I really try to focus on when I am making things, obviously whatever I make is functional. So, ultimately it is a craft. I say I am a woodwork artisan. What I really try to do is push, um, what I make as a wood work craft or a wood work art object, past the functional into a real fine art piece. So you'll see that a lot of the pieces I do I try to bridge between the functional part and the fine art part."

To see his work fully in three dimensions get yourself over to Milford, where you can see his work at the Mispillion Art league and Gallery 37: