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Friday, Oct. 21, 2016

Noted woodworker to display at IC Retreat

Friday, March 27, 2009

Jerry Rupp is pictured carving out a bowl in his workshop in Lafayette Ill. Rupp and his handcrafted bowl will be at the Immaculate Conception Church where his sister, Sr. Joyce Rupp will be giving a retreat on March 28. Photo contributed
If you pay a visit to Jerry Rupp's Shop in Lafayette Ill., you'll find a retired plumber and hydronic heat mechanic who is now an artist turning logs of wood into carefully crafted bowls, vases, Christmas tree ornaments, earrings, stamp holders and other beautiful items.

For those interested, Rupp will be in Cherokee on Saturday at the Immaculate Conception Church where his sister, Sr. Joyce Rupp, will be giving a retreat. A variety of Jerry Rupp's work will be displayed in the church hall.

Special small bowls that Rupp created from trees felled by the windstorm that demolished Mary Hill Visitation Church will also be for sale. Viewing and sales will be from 12:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. for those at the retreat, and 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. for the general public. To contact Rupp you can e-mail him at ruppkin@winco.net.

Rupp, a native of Cherokee county, notes that ever since he was a young boy helping his dad, Lester, on their farm, he "always liked big trees and working with wood." When Rupp completed service in the Air Force, he settled in Colorado where his uncle Ivan encouraged him to move into the plumbing business.

Rupp couldn't stay away from wood, however, and was always working on a "project" involving the use of wood, everything from building additions on his own home to making several sets of kitchen cabinets and a large sewing table for his wife's quilting projects.

"I find woodturning to be very relaxing," Rupp explains. "Hours go by fast when I am out in my shop. Finding the surprising features and designs in the wood, plus seeing the glow of the surface as I finish the piece, is especially rewarding."

Neighbors and acquaintances in the Lafayette area recognize Rupp as an exceptional woodturner and often invite him to claim a fallen tree or clear out a patch of dead trees on their property. Consequently, his woodturning art contains a great variety of trees, including cherry, ash, elm, oak, maple, box elder, poplar, mulberry, cedar, catalpa and even apple and pear.

Rupp's shop holds a variety of tools needed for the beautiful creations that come from these trees. A short tour around his shop reveals the necessary equipment used to create the smooth, wooden treasures that are now found throughout the United States, and even as far away as New Zealand.

Everything from chain, table and planer saws, to wood lathes, various gouges and scrapers, bench grinders and boxes of sandpaper, fill the large room. "We don't waste any wood," explains Rupp. "What I don't turn, we burn to heat our home and my shop. Wood shavings are used by a neighbor as bedding for the pigs he raises and transports."

When asked how he eventually took up woodturning as his retired hobby, Jerry replies, "I started making our kitchen cabinets out of wood from an old farmhouse owned by my mom, Hilda, and thought I'd Like to focus on working with wood. It was T & E (trial and error) for me.

I taught myself how to turn a simple piece of tree into a smooth piece of beauty. I read books and magazines on woodturning and watched some turners on T.V. Eventually, I learned the skill."

Rupp, who travels to craft shows in the Midwest to sell his handiwork, also has his work in various shops and bookstores, including the "The Gallery" in Kewanee, Ill. "We've met a lot of nice people at crafts shows," Rupp comments. "When someone returns years after year to our booth at a show and tells me the pleasure they find in what I've created, that means a lot to me."

He has good reason to experience that satisfaction. Pastor Lori Swenson of Wisconsin recently ordered 50 small bowls and wrote to thank him: "They are truly works of art and such a blessing in our prayer journey."

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