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Friday, August 12, 2022

Wood and Wisdom

“My pieces are not for everyone,” says Eric Gourieux, the artist behind the wood sculptures displayed in a corner glass showcase at Nance Galleries, 662 S. Green River Road, in Evansville. “It really does take a special buyer to notice the piece and to make the purchase.”

The Newburgh, Ind., resident has been “turning” at a lathe since roughly 2000. He started out taking a wooden pen-making class, but these days, his creations range from beautiful natural bowls to wooden vases. “I have always been interested in working with wood, starting back in high school,” the 51-year-old says. “I like the way wood feels when working with a very natural material. However, after making so many pens, I became bored and wanted to go bigger.”

“Working with small pieces, you use a small lathe,” Gourieux says, referring to the tool that spins the wood horizontally at speeds of 600 to 3,000 revolutions per minute. He uses different cutting and carving tools to shape the wood. “About four or five years ago, I bought a bigger lathe to make bigger pieces,” he says.

Woodworking is not Gourieux’s full-time job. By day, he is a family practice physician at St. Mary’s Hospital. “It is a total stress reliever, being able to come home and go out to my garage almost every night and be creative,” he says. “It is a left-brain, right-brain thing.”

Each piece varies. “I could spend 10 to 40 hours on a piece, depending on how big it is, or it may take me a year to finish a piece,” Gourieux says. “I may start something and then get to a point where I am not sure exactly how I want it to look in the end, so I put it aside for a bit and come back to it later.”

After having people comment on how good his creations were, Gourieux brought a box of his pieces and walked into Nance Gallery to ask if the owners, Curt and Francia Nance, would be interested in selling his works. “It takes a lot to load up a box and hope you do not get rejected.” KnitWitts Yarn Shoppe carries his yarn bowls, but Gourieux’s works are also sold in Vail, Colo., where his family owns a condo.

While none of Gourieux’s four children — Daniel, Missy, Evan, and Nicole — have taken a particular interest in their father’s hobby, this, he says, “is what I will do in my retirement.”

“The house can be much smaller as long as I have a nice big garage,” he says with a smile from ear to ear. “My wife, Kim, also agrees.”

Gourieux’s pieces can range from $60 to $200 for bowls and from $150 to more than $1,000 for hollow forms (vases, for instance), depending on the size, details, and inlay at Nance Galleries. He also will create custom works based on customer orders.

For more information on Eric Gourieux and his wooden carvings, contact him at eric_gourieux@yahoo.com.

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