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Bruce’s interest in art began in high school where he was inspired by his art teacher, Mr. Bill Wickersham, who challenged him to try different forms of art that included abstract/hard-edge painting, sketching portraits, drawing cartoons and wood sculpture. As a teenager, while working at his family-owned roller skating and bowling recreation center, Bruce would sit and draw caricatures to pass the time.
In 1982 Bruce attended a large show in the local school auditorium that featured the Blue Earth Royal Chiselers Woodcarving Club. When he saw the carving displays the one that immediately captured his interest was the hillbilly chess set carved from Harold Enlow’s pattern. It was at that time he knew that he wanted to try carving one. Club members Herb Hansen and Harley Schmitgen took him under their wings and gave him the tools and wood that he needed to get started. Bruce joined the local woodcarving club and developed many good friendships over the years with other carvers from the surrounding communities.
Early on Bruce developed an interest in carving caricatures because they always brought a smile to those who saw them. It is very rewarding for Bruce to take a piece of basswood and find the guy that is in there and let him out. There’s always an idea in his brain waiting to be carved and he finds it to be the most relaxing thing to be working on something that he wants to carve!
Bruce was fortunate to become good friends with Marv Kaisersatt through their woodcarving club and he had the opportunity to carve with him and another fellow woodcarver, Darrel Peterson, for three years every Wednesday night in Marv’s studio apartment in Faribault, Minnesota. In addition to providing encouragement, Marv challenged Bruce to become a better carver through his example and sense of humor. Additional CCA members Bruce has received instructions from through classes include Kevin Applegate, Ron Dowdy, Gary Falin, Dwayne Gosnell, Dale Green, Chris Hammack, Jim Hiser, Wayne Laramore, Ryan Olsen, Rich Wetherbee, Phil & Vicki Bishop, Harold Enlow, Dave Rushlo, David Sabol, and Harley Schmitgen. Any one of these instructors would be able to share stories of what it was like to have Bruce in their class!
Bruce has taught carving classes and continues to build on providing carving demonstrations on his YouTube Channel. Although there has been an increase in promoting woodcarving through social media it doesn’t compare to the comradery experienced by carving together in person. The lasting friendships that have been made over the years with other woodcarvers and their spouses has been the icing on the cake for Bruce!
Bruce has been married to his wife Bonnie since 1976 and they have three married sons, Bryan (Tiffany), Brandon (Ana) and Brent (Christine) and 10 grandchildren. After working in the family business for 47 years, Bruce retired from their furniture business on December 31, 2021 and sold the Ankeny building to a sewing and quilting business. He is now enjoying the freedom that he has to spend more time with family, carve in his workshop, take camping trips and travel! Bruce is deeply honored about his induction into the CCA at the 2023 Carvin’ The Rockies event in Colorado Springs.