Pennsylvania anesthesiologist carves wood into art business
■ A need to express a different, creative side led to a commercial opportunity.
By Victoria Stagg Elliott — Posted April 16, 2012
Making sidelines pay
Doctors who branched out beyond running their practice tell why they did it, how they did it, and what you should know before you do it.
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Name: Gene Chernyak, MD.
Specialty: Anesthesiology and pain management.
Location: East Norriton, Pa.
Company: Wooddevotion sells wood vases, plates, cups, jewelry, wall hangings, bottles, bowls, candlesticks and boxes that Dr. Chernyak creates (link).
Annual revenue: $45,000.
Why he started the business: Dr. Chernyak, an anesthesiologist and pain management physician with Mercy Suburban Hospital in East Norriton, Pa., started teaching himself about wood turning and carving about 12 years ago as a means of expressing his artistic side. He was drawn to wood because it had inherent natural beauty, but he could use his hands to make it even more so.
“Wood is a great medium. It holds its form, but there are these fissures that are fascinating,” Dr. Chernyak said.
Friends and family started buying candlesticks and vases made using spiraling, texturing and reeding techniques. They also bought jewelry and bowls that were stained, burned, carved, pierced and sandblasted.
In 2003, he built a large woodworking shop in his backyard to give him space to display his work and practice his craft. His work is for sale at galleries in Pennsylvania and New York.
“People liked my work,” Dr. Chernyak said. “I have had some customers come for years.”
Some pieces, however, are hard to let go, and his home as well as his studio are filled with them.
“I have some stuff that I love, and my wife doesn’t want to sell anything,” Dr. Chernyak said. “But we have no more space.”
Prices vary with some items fetching several thousand dollars.
Why he still practices: Woodworking “doesn’t bring in much money, and I like medicine,” Dr. Chernyak said.
Words of wisdom: “Nobody will buy something they don’t like,” Dr. Chernyak said.