Friday, March 11, 2011

Bob Schiff, wood carver

Photo by Ewa Rumprecht
Bob Schiff, wood carver from Great Neck, first encountered wood carving at Alley Pond Environmental Center where he attended a three day carving course. He liked it so much he decided to pursue it further. He joined a carving club, a supportive group of carvers in possession of passion, talent, and a great library. He worked with the club for many years and was at one point its president.

Bob does not come from an artistic background, but is very open to ideas. When his daughter, who did indeed graduate from an art school, tried different art techniques, Bob followed. He experimented with stone and clay sculpture, made objects of papier-mâché.

He now concentrates his creative powers just on carving as his time is already filled to a brim. Bob, a supercharged retiree, is a biking enthusiast, he bikes 30-40 miles a day. He plays tennis and roller-blades. Until recently he was an avid skier. Bob volunteers for the Big Apple Greeters organization where he meets tourists from all over the world and helps them discover New York.

Photo by Ewa Rumprecht
Originally Bob carved mostly birds - he is a bird watcher, keeps well stocked bird feeders in his backyard and a handy pair of binoculars. Bob likes to carve local birds, they are frequent companions in his garden, but had carved tropical birds, as well. With time Bob branched out to other subjects: he immortalized friends' pets, has done commissioned work, carved other animals, figures, and walking sticks for his family members.

For his painted (acrylic is his paint of choice) wood carvings Bob uses tupelo, basswood, or yellow poplar. For the natural wood pieces he prefers cedar, mahogany, black walnut, and most tropical woods. He purchases his wood at shows, exchanges it with his club members, receives chunks from friends and family. Another great source happens to be discarded wood from Steinway piano factory.

90% of his work is done with electric tools, many of them dental instruments, Bob before his retirement used to be a dentist, 10% is done manually.

Bob does not like parting with some of his pieces. Once a potential customer asked Bob for a carving of a blue heron. Bob happened to have one ready, he gave a rather high price for the piece to discourage the buyer. To his surprise the enthusiastic customer whipped up a check book and bought the piece. Bob made another carving of the blue heron, priceless, just for himself to keep.

Bob will be one of the presenters at the Introduction to Wood Carving event on Saturday, March 12th, between 10 am and 12:30 pm.

1 comment:

  1. It's great to see him does what he likes to do. I'm happy that he can do some wood carving at his age.