John "Taylor" Starkey was born in 1958 in Galveston, Texas. He grew up in the South Texas ranching country of Victoria, Texas. He later graduated from Baylor University, then the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston. After medical school he completed a residency in Family Medicine and returned to open his medical practice in Victoria. He started the Texas Health Center with his wife, Myra, in 1988, which they still run together 30 years later.
Taylor began wood turning in the early 1990s and enjoys the craft as a great way to relax after a day of seeing patients. For the last quarter of a century he has worked to advance his wood turning skills. He is primarily self-taught and his work is all done by hand. The large vessels he creates are generally organic shapes, sometimes carved or inlaid, finely sanded and then preserved with a marine-grade polyurethane for durability.
One of his biggest challenges is finding the beautiful wood to create the vessels. Only the exceptional tree has the wood that is suitable to create a work of art. He seeks the best colors and complexity of grain.
Mesquite is his favorite due to its stability, rich colors and hardness. Almost all of his woods are locally sourced from the South Texas region. Other choices of wood includes pecan, oak, bois d'arc and cedar.