Craig Parrish

Craig Parrish has lived in Cookson for a decade and he creates wood products and furniture under the name of Oklahoma Master Woodwright.

On Craig Parrish's Facebook page for Oklahoma Master Woodwright, he claims to make handmade products in a mass-produced world.

"Everything I do within the world of art, with the exception of being a musician, I am self-taught at. My favorite medium to work with is wood, with other mediums of photography, writing and music holding a place in my heart," said Parrish, 58. "For me, art is something I see with extreme clarity within my mind and gets developed using my gifts and talents."

Preferring the practical to display pieces, Parrish builds furniture for homes and offices, such as desks, dressers, side tables, and dining and conference tables. He also makes custom frames, cutting boards and more.

"Everything is one of a kind, built to last for generations," he said.

Currently, he is working on a barn-style door for interior use, and a classic chest for a young girl.

"The barn door is going to be unlike anything you could ever purchase. It will be solid oak with walnut accent wood and a custom walnut handle. What I am really excited about is an artist friend of mine in California who does glass work is making opaque-colored glass with nautical-themed etching within the glass for a transom-style window within this interior barn door," said Parrish.

The chest is going to have wooden hinges featured on the back edge and will be made of contrasting wood, possibly ash and walnut.

"I like to think that this little girl will have a hope chest or a memory chest that will someday be part of her own home and family," he said. "I once built my wife a baker's rack-style wooden cabinet for the kitchen."

An insurance claims specialist for federal and state regulated policies, Parrish moved to the Cookson area in 2009 with his wife, Linda.

"While she was originally from the Oklahoma City area, she had family in this area, and when she introduced me to this area, I wanted to live here," said Parrish.

He has three children: Sydney, a daughter with special needs; and sons Travis and Jacob, who both attend University of Arkansas in Fayetteville.

Parrish said he wasn't influenced by art at home growing up. Instead, he developed his creative side when he was out on his own and could choose what he wanted to pursue or study.

"Probably the thing I do the most is study items of interest. I love going to museums. I also love studying those who have done things before me. For example, two great creative minds I have been studying lately are Sam Maloof and Frank Lloyd Wright," said Parrish. "The fascinating thing about both of these men is not always what they did, which is fantastic stuff, but in what they went up against before becoming acknowledged in their respective fields."

Other inspiration comes from his wife and aunt, as well as those for whom he makes items.

"I am always amazed that they feel something that I made is wonderful unique, that they want it as part of their home and are willing to pay for it," he said. "The last project I did, I was inspired by the raw wood itself. I saw in it a way of making a table that would look as if it was taken from the center of a 3-1/2-foot-wide tree and set on its side."

A wooden boat is on Parrish's list of future projects.

"One of the most beautiful things made of wood is the old 1950s varnished mahogany wood Chris-Craft runabout boats," he said.

Other than being his own worst critic, Parrish has found other difficulties in his craft.

"In my medium, the costs are exorbitant. You need space, tools, the wood, to mention just a few," he said. "I believe the greatest challenge in art is knowing when to stop. You can overpaint a picture, you can overwrite a story, you can overdo all forms of art. You must learn when it's just right and that takes practice."

Parrish tries to inspire others to want to be creative, and he would mentor someone if he was asked.

"I would advise everyone to make creativeness part of learning from the very beginning of education to at least the completion of 12th grade," said Parrish. "As one grows, continue to be inspired; if you haven't already found your passion in creativeness, then develop a passion for something creative. Find ways to explore, to do, to create. Creativeness seems so close to being lost in our society."

When not woodworking or creating, Parrish enjoys traveling, and getting together with his family and having a feast.

"I love to smoke meats when we all get together - brisket, ribs, chicken, turkey, ham, we have them all," he said.

He also likes to snow ski in the mountains and snorkel in the Caribbean, and he takes photos of his travels, as well as nature shots. Parrish would also like to play more music.

"I visualize being part of a band that performs for legitimate fundraising events. I also hope to finish a book I've been working on someday soon," he said.