As an artist, Glenn Durlacher enjoys being stumped.
The wood carver and owner of Glenn Sculptures can transform stumps of trees into eagles, herons, seahorses, chipmunks, raccoons, dogs, lions, bears and more.
He has chiseled an exotic Buddha and an Egyptian cat, as well as a whimsical birdbath and New York Yankees bear. He’d like to make a scale replica of the face of the Statue of Liberty and is presently gathering photos for the exact proportions.
“Glenn has extraordinary talent,” said Brenda Travis of Assembly Point, who recently commissioned the Queensbury sculptor to carve a bear out of a 13-foot tree stump on her property.
Travis met Durlacher two years ago when he carved ice sculptures at Winter Carnival in Lake George and asked him to do something with the white pine in her yard. It was all that remained after a violent windstorm brought the upper reaches of the 120-year-old tree crashing down onto her house in 2006.
Travis considered several choices for a sculpture after reviewing
Durlacher’s extensive portfolio but in the end chose a grizzly bear because it seemed to fit with the Adirondack location and modern rustic architecture of her house.
On this particular day, scaffolding laid off to the side as Durlacher used a chain saw to lop off large chunks of wood from his spray-painted outlines on the stump. He said he never knows for sure what condition the wood will be in when he starts a project. With this one, he found six inches of decay all the way around, and had to make a few design changes.
The chain saw would be replaced with a series of sanding tools, dremel tools and chisels as Durlacher moved into the finer detail work.
Before taking up wood carving six years ago, the Queensbury man had carved ice professionally. He was a banquet chef for Marriott Hotels and said he had made centerpieces for First Night celebrations in Albany and Saratoga Springs and Hillary Clinton’s U.S. senatorial campaign.
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Durlacher has no formal art background but believes his talent might be inherited from his great-grandfather, who was a silversmith for Tiffany & Co.
He discovered his sculpting ability when he was a student at Rochester Institute of Technology.
“I could get a figurine from the gift shop and replicate it right away,” he said.
Durlacher said he has completed between 300 and 400 sculptures in oak, maple, cherry, pine, spalted maple and black walnut. He seals and protects each one with a marine varnish.
His sculptures range in price from $150 to thousands of dollars, including his most expensive work — a carved bear and cubs — which sold for $10,000.
“It really depends on the amount of detail, the hand carving, the difficulty,” he said.
Durlacher’s greatest reward comes when people
tell him his pieces are the best gifts they’ve ever received.
“I love creating something that didn’t exist,” he said. “I love what I do.”