Chip carving, an art form practically as old as time, involves precise, angled chip-like cuts to create decorative inlayed patterns. Potter dove into studying the techniques of chip carving, reading books by masters like Barton. He even transformed the basement of his Eastham home into a workshop. After a “horrible” first attempt at chip carving, he says his wife encouraged him to be patient and not give up. “Someone once said that woodworking minus patience equals firewood, and boy is that the truth,” he says, smiling. So he kept at it, establishing his own chip carving business, NausetWood, and in the two years since then, Potter has proven to possess a remarkable knack for the craft, creating in painterly detail intricate geometric shapes and coastal images on his wooden canvases.

“His pieces are wonderful—I love them,” says Jane Williamson, owner of Oceana in Orleans. “I love that each one is different, and he is always pushing himself and changing his designs and improving his trays.” Williamson was the first retail owner Potter approached to sell his work. As Potter recalls: “I showed her my trays and she said, ‘I’ll take that one, that one, that one, but I won’t take that one,’ and I said ‘How come not that one?’ and she pointed out a glue line that I didn’t even see. She said, ‘That won’t sell.’ I thought, ‘Wow, if I’m going to do this, I have to make these things flawless.’ That was the challenge.”

“I have to say, a lot of people bring things in for us to see, and we don’t take everything—we’re very picky,” Williamson notes. “When I met Steve and saw the quality of his work, I knew straight away it would work in Oceana. And he has continued that attention to detail.”