When Ian Jeffcock’s father died nearly two decades ago, he started going through his dad’s old tools and came across a multi-use Shopsmith. Once he started using the lathe feature, it reignited a hobby he had as a teenager, and he has been honing his woodturning skills in Eureka ever since.
Jeffcock has dabbled in different art mediums such as ceramics, stained glass and photography over the years, but he says woodturning had a unique impact on his creativity.
“The wood hooked me,” Jeffcock said. “It’s different … Wood has its own character. Even in the same tree it can vary.”
Since upgrading from the Shopsmith tool, Jeffcock now works with an 800-pound Powermatic lathe, transforming local trees into bowls, wineglass stems and cremation urns.
Jeffcock sources all of his wood locally from tree trimmers, utility companies and locals looking to dispose of their trees. He typically uses deciduous trees like box elder, elm, birch and maple, which he brings home in lengths of 10 to 15 feet and works in his shop. After he forms the product with the lathe, he dries, waxes and puts a finish on it.
“We’ve jokingly said for years that mine is ‘trash to flash,’” Jeffock said.
Jeffcock mostly makes bowls, but he also handcrafts cremation urns, which he hollows out using a laser.
“I enjoy doing these because of the challenge,” he said.
Originally from Cornwall, a rural area in England, Jeffcock moved to California with his family as a teenager almost 50 years ago. He’s only been back to visit England once since he immigrated, but he didn’t decide to become a United States citizen until he was in his 30s. He relocated to Eureka shortly after moving to California and has been there ever since.
Not long before Jeffcock began woodturning, he started a new career in law enforcement at age 49 for the Eureka Police Department and spent his last six years as the chief of police.
“When I applied to that job in law enforcement … I had to write the most bizarre resume you ever saw,” he said.
Before his career as a police officer started, Jeffcock had a diverse skillset after working as an irrigation district manager, a cattle ranch foreman and at one point as one of few people in the country working as an embryologist where he split cattle embryos for a veterinarian.
On Jeffcock’s 50th birthday, he remembers sitting in the police academy with his classmates.
“They all used to call me ‘gramps,’” he said.
After nearly two decades on the Eureka Police Department, Jeffcock retired as police chief in March.
“I did that for a long time,” he said. “I decided it was time to let the younger guys take over and do my passion.”
Jeffcock now shows his work at Manifestations Gallery in downtown Eureka, which he co-owns with Sally Balderson and Doug Merrill and where they rent booth space to seven resident artists and roughly 20 guest artists.
Since retirement, Jeffcock has been keeping busy with house projects and plans to get back into photography, which he dabbled in before he rediscovered woodturning. He says most woodturners eventually begin teaching or create their own line of tools, but Jeffcock says he enjoys the process too much to refocus his energy.
“All my life I’ve always had to create something,” Jeffcock said.
To see Jeffcock’s work, drop by Manifestations Gallery at 303 Dewey Avenue in Eureka or visit www.manifestationsgallery.com.
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