SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KCAU) — From a distance, the kitchen of Darlene and Dennis Burson looks like most, but after a closer look, you can tell there’s something special going on here. And there has been for 30 years.
“I had a neighbor lady who gave me a couple blocks of wood to try it, so I did, and I found out I could carve. I took classes at WIT and kept learning more and more,” Darlene Burson said.
Whether using basswood or butternut, “The feeling the pleasure to know that you could really do something that most people couldn’t do,” Darlene added.
“It comes along pretty quickly if you have an eye to see what you are doing, and if you don’t, you don’t continue. There are a lot of people that start and just can’t get it,” Darlene said.
Darlene has “it”. Once teaching classes and offering workshops at Branson’s Silver Dollar City. She also became nationally known for her carvings.
“This is my all-wooden baby and so is the blanket,” said Darlene. “Her arms move, and her legs move. It’s a small miniature and she is movable and all wood.”
It’s her talent of carving life-size and life-like newborn babies that brought acclaim from across the county.
“These are special. Nobody else makes these. Can’t find anybody that makes them in the United States. Some make dolls, but not babies. There’s a formula for carving a human face,” Darlene said.
“I took my grandkids and measured them and that’s how I came out with a different formula for carving a baby’s face,” Darlene added. “That’s why mine stood out over others who wanted to make a baby.”
In all, Darlene has brought 17 wooden babies to life. Only 4 remain not sold. Her grandkids have claimed all of them.
“The first one I did, I carved for my daughter because she was a baby lover,” Darlene said.
Thousands of pounds of wood has been carved by Darlene over three decades.
Arthritis has whittled away the hours she now spends with a knife in her hand. Her projects are smaller but just as impressive.
“35-millimeter people because they fit in there. These are the golf balls we carve,” said Darlene. “This one I carved and a friend of mine took it to Daytona Beach NASCAR and Jimmy Johnson signed it for me.”
Darlene adds, “That’s my sanity. It gives me something to do other than watch TV or go for a run. I can sit here in my house and do it and enjoy it. It’s not working, it’s pleasure.”
It’s a pastime providing satisfaction to the artist and those who get to enjoy her work.