Harry Seurkamp of Whitney enjoys his hobby of woodcarving.
“It’s very satisfying and very stress-relieving,” he says. “I do enter competition and go to various shows. Sometimes people come up and say they’d love to learn how to do this. They ask me about tools. If they look like they’re interested, I loan them 3 basic tools, a safety glove to keep from cutting themselves, and a leather strap like the old barbers used to use to sharpen their straight razors. I then give them a little book I wrote on how to carve various things.”
He lets the people keep the tools, glove and strap for 6 months.
“If they enjoy carving, I’ll tell them where they can buy the tools. If they don’t enjoy the carving or can’t handle it, they give the tools back to me and they’re not out any money.”
Harry’s house is in a planned community on the outskirts of Whitney.
“The house is designed around my shop. I drew the plans and gave them to the architect and he pretty well followed them. It works great. I can enter the workshop from my office. I have air ducts and blowers to get the dust outside so it never gets in the house. I spend a lot of time in my workshop and have some wonderful equipment I’ve bought over the years. When I’m not carving I’m reading about carving. I have a large library of wood carving books and magazines.”
He is a member of the Texas Woodcarvers Guild that has a two-day show in Cleburne every April. There are also 5 days of teaching woodcarving to anyone who wants to learn. Most of them are older. He wishes more young people would find the hobby interesting but says most of them are electronic minded.
He carves manger scenes.
“I have 15 students that I teach in our community. We have a church here called White Bluff Chapel. We had a Christmas Eve service one evening and there was no manger scene. So the following Christmas Eve I presented the congregation with a manger scene with Mary, Joseph, baby Jesus and promised them that I would give them a piece every year to add to this. At his point we have two shepherds, a cow, a donkey, the 3 Kings, the 3 gifts and 3 large camels. The camels were challenging. I have one that’s standing, one that’s semi-reclining and one fully reclining. I gave each of my students the opportunity to carve a sheep, so they have a hand in this, too. There’s probably about 52 pieces in there right now.”
The manger scene is on a 6-foot table. He made a stable with Velcro so all he has to do to put it up is snap the pieces together.
Harry is a retired druggist who was at a crafts show and saw some woodcarvers.
“They looked so contented, just carving some really beautiful pieces that looked like they belonged in a museum or gallery. I stood there a long time admiring their work and asking questions.”