Local Artist Bob Vickery Showcases Unique Wooden Creations at 18th Backyard Craft Festival in Lynn Haven

by Bonnie Thompson

LYNN HAVEN, FL - Bob Vickery, a native of Panama City, will be one of the local artists whose work will be at the 18th Backyard Craft Festival held on December 2nd and 3rd at 1305 Florida Avenue in Lynn Haven. Do not miss this spectacular event full of local craftsmen and artists held at Down the Lane Studio. For more information on this festival, see the Bay County Coastal event calendar. https://baycountycoastal.com/events/118

Bob’s colorful past is intertwined with the history of Panama City. His family owned the old Coca Cola Bottling Plant on Fifth street in downtown Panama City where, as a young man, Bob worked during the summer. He attended Jinks Middle School and during a shop class, turned his first wooden bowl in 1956. Bob’s grandfather was a commercial fisherman in the area. Consequently, Bob’s father had a hobby of tying mullet casting nets. Bob describes his family as mullet snobs and at a young age, he learned to cast a mullet net.

Later he left Panama city and attended the University of Southern Mississippi and received a Masters in Biology. He then spent many years working for the Environmental Protection Agency in Dallas, Texas. As a biologist and avid sailboat racer in Dallas, Bob spent a great deal of time on lakes and rivers. He paddled canoes, fished and always enjoyed nature. This led to Bob making his first wooden boat in 1980, a canoe made from redwood strips and fiberglass, which still hangs in Bob’s garage today.

In the year 2000, he retired and returned to his home in Panama City to care for his elderly mother, where he has lived ever since. In Panama City, Bob built his second wooden boat, the Mullet Skiff, a 17 foot skiff made of plywood and fiberglass similar to the boats he used as a kid to explore the bay.

Looking at Bob’s life and experiences, it’s not hard to see how he would find his path to becoming an artist. It all began the day Bob’s wife, Pril, found Bob’s first wooden bowl in the back of a high kitchen cabinet. Bob held it in his hands at that moment and said, “I’ve always wanted to turn bowls.” Pril immediately told her husband “Bob, you are 70 years old. If you don’t do it now, you never will.” The next day, Bob and Pril went to Enterprise, Alabama to buy his first lathe. This encouragement from Pril has led to Bob’s continued development of his talent.

Bob began turning bowls and quickly realized he would progress quicker with instruction and went to several classes at the John C. Campbell Folk School in North Carolina. Additionally, he discovered a group of artists in our area called the Emerald Coast Woodturners Guild. They meet once a month in Santa Rosa Beach. They always have a demonstration, and there are several artists who eagerly share instruction in their craft.

There are a host of tools and some safety gear used for this art. The piece of tree trunk or limb is first hollowed on the lathe using a tool rest and woodturning chisels. The bowl, turned from green wood, then needs to cure in stable humidity for a while. Once cured, it is put back on the lathe to be centered and sanded. Last, the piece is finished with something like tongue oil or polyurethane.

Once a year, Bob sells his artwork made from a variety of wood at the Backyard Craft Festival. Please come out and see what our local artists have to offer.

Photos by Bonnie Thompson

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