Artist Mark Schlegel- The Ripplewood King
Born in 1948 in Palo Alto, California, Mark Schlegel has lived near or in redwood country his entire life. The city of Palo Alto was named after a single tall redwood tree that Spanish explorer Portola used as a landmark while he explored the San Francisco region.
While growing up, Mark enjoyed the many trips his family would take to redwood parks, beaches and canyons in rural San Mateo county. As a teenager, Mark would ride his motorcycle through miles of redwood forest on old logging roads, finding many examples of amazing redwood trees and their burls. College days continued with more redwood country experiences, camping and driftwood hunting. Mark Schlegel received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Art with a focus in Sculpture from San Jose State University.
After University Mark and his brother began making redwood tables from burls and driftwood pieces found along the beaches, streams and canyons of Carmel and Big Sur. Mark's family moved to the Monterey area in the mid-Sixties, opening a whole new region of redwood country for Mark to explore and admire. Many fine tables were crafted, but Mark had to get serious about a career, so table-making gave way to a landscaping business that Mark and his wife Elaine have run for over forty years in the Carmel Valley area.
Through the years, Mark never quite gave up on creating beautiful art with unused redwood driftwood pieces. A fascination with a certain grain in redwood boards and split wood known as "ripplewood" led to a whole new enterprise. Ripplewood is very rare in redwoods, so Mark set out in the 1980s to start collecting it, one piece at a time. Over thirty years, enough ripplewood was amassed to begin building tables and sculptures. Perfecting splitting techniques were key to Mark's products.
Now that Mark is nearing retirement from the landscaping business, time is more available for sharing his creations with those who have an appreciation for redwood, the most beautiful wood in the world.