South Dakota dentist's steady hands help with wood carving

2012-12-31T14:02:00Z 2013-11-18T17:03:28Z South Dakota dentist's steady hands help with wood carvingThe Associated Press The Associated Press
December 31, 2012 2:02 pm  • 

MADISON | Bernie Schuurmans has been learning a new hobby — wood carving — which earned him an honorable mention award at a recent art show in Sioux Falls.

Schuurmans started learning about wood carving two years ago, but one of his dental patients, Dale Goreham, had been encouraging him for several years before that.

A long-time Madison dentist, Schuurmans sold his practice in 2010 but has continued seeing patients.

"After I sold my business, I went to (Goreham's) shop," Schuurmans said. "Then I started going up to see him every three to four weeks."

Schuurmans said that each time he visited, Goreham would teach him a new technique. To date, Schuurmans has completed several carvings; some are Santas, others are cowboys or Native Americans.

"It's a neat hobby you can do in your home," Schuurmans said. "It's rewarding if you think you've done a good job."

This year, he entered the Dakota Masterworks art show in October. The event is held at the Good Samaritan Center in Sioux Falls. Entrants must be over 60 years old. Art can be submitted in one of seven categories — acrylic painting, drawing/pastels, oil painting, photography, sculpture, watercolor painting or wood carving. Entrants who are 60-79 fall into the experienced category; those 80 and older are considered master artists.

For the show, Schuurmans entered two pieces — a woodcarving of two Native Americans standing together, and another larger piece with cowboys as the subject. Both received honorable mentions — a place he's proud of, considering it was his first contest and there were 188 entries.

Schuurmans said woodcarving is an ideal hobby for a dentist because it requires steady hands and the ability to get down to a much finer detail.

At this point, Schuurmans said, many of his carvings have been completed using a model that he duplicates, so he still considers himself in the very early stages of learning. However, he is learning some new techniques — like how to fix mistakes such as recreating a face when too much wood has been cut away.

Schuurmans said there are three main types of wood used for carving. Basswood is one of the softest varieties; butternut is a little harder; and cyprus root is special-ordered from Florida.

There are other techniques that he's yet to learn, like chip carving and bark carving.

Schuurmans' carvings aren't completed until his name and the date have been carved into the base.

While he plans to enter the next art contest, Schuurmans said that for now, he plans to keep it just a hobby.

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