Michael Sinesio has been carving in a variety of material since his boyhood days in northeastern Oklahoma, but stone in general holds his greatest fascination. “The real treasure for me is the stone types we have right here at our feet.”
Enjoying the search for his own carvable stone, Sinesio says “many believe the true spirit of the stone carver comes through if they go out into the bush to find their own.” Likening “stone hunting” to prospecting, he finds maps to be very important guides, as well as rock outcrops along roadsides and old mine sites to be clues or evidence that carvable stone is present. Collecting serpentine, soapstone, vermillion, mudstone, alabaster, slate and other rock throughout the summer, Sinesio carves during the winter using a variety of files, chisels, hacksaws and diamond tools. Each piece is then polished to a soft luster with emery cloth.
The subject matter for his work is many times influenced by the location at which the stone is found. Other ideas stem from the observation of animals, and life experience.
With no formal art training, Sinesio has watched many traditional wood carvers practicing their skills and in time, was able to develop to the level he is at today. When asked how long it takes to carve something, his stock reply is, “30 years!”
Several commissioned pieces by Sinesio are found in Ely. He also has a piece at Ironworld in Hibbing, Minnesota.
Aside from teaching wood sculpture for many years, Sinesio served as the Artistic Director of Ely’s Voyageur Winter Festival Snow Sculpture Symposium for several years and is also captain of the U.S. Snow Sculpting Team at the Festival Du Voyageur in Winnipeg, Manitoba.