Max Krimmel

International Award-winning, Contemporary Alabaster Turnings

“I was two years old when my family moved from Pennsylvania to Denver in 1950. I’ve lived in Colorado ever since. I attended public schools (South High, 1966) and later the University of Denver, Colorado State University and University of Colorado, Boulder. Sometimes I think my attraction to craft began “in-utero”. Even the earliest of my childhood projects always contained an extra something, more paint, additional details, or two or three versions of the same project trying to make it better. An early boost came in 1960 when I brought home trophies for First, Second and Third place in a model car contest. I haven’t swept a competition since.

In high school I became interested in building guitars. By the time I graduated in 1966 I had sold two of them and quit the last job I’ve had. So at seventeen I was a professional luthier. I worked out of my parents’ basement until 1970 when I moved to Boulder and put the guitar shop in my living room. By 1972 I had bought a house in the mountains near Boulder with space for a real shop (or a real living room, depending on how you look at it). By 1982 my guitar clients included Jerry Jeff Walker, Stephen Stills, David Bromberg, Bob Shane (of the Kingston Trio) Robert McIntee, Spencer Bohern, and Colorado favorites Carla Sciaky, Mary Flower, Bonnie Carol and Chuck Pyle. In 1979 one of my guitars was included in the Contemporary Musical Instruments show at the Smithsonian Institution.

The lathe entered my life in 1972 when a friend asked to store one in my shop. My early woodturnings were made of scraps from the guitar business. I wasn’t trying to sell them but one was on exhibit at the Boulder Center for the Visual Arts in 1972. In 1982 I stopped making guitars. I had developed my skills to the point where I could no longer tell if I was improving and didn’t feel I was adding anything to the field. I spun my wheels for a bit, went back to school (CU – Fine Art) and got serious about my woodturning. I might have stayed in woodturning for a while but for a chance introduction to alabaster turning in 1986.

Alabaster was immediately attractive and the field was wide open. I entered the first International Turned Objects Show in 1988 and had five pieces accepted, two of wood, three of alabaster. I had no idea of the prestige of the show or that my work was that good. In 1989 I wrote an article for Fine Woodworking magazine about alabaster turning. From 1987 until the present I have taught alabaster turning workshops all across the country. I believe that nearly all contemporary alabaster turning can be traced either to the article, to the workshops I have conducted, or to my website (

In 1999 one of my alabaster turnings was displayed at Smithsonian’s Renwick Gallery and another one at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Then in 2002 one of my early woodturnings was shown at the Renwick in the Woodturning in North America show.

I have no idea what may be next. Alabaster is still challenging and I am still getting better at it.”
– Max Krimmel


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