Meet the Artist: Dr. Bill Schultz

Dr. William Schultz works on a sculpture in the studio at his home located near Sugarcreek. The hobby is something he has time to enjoy after retiring from the Tuscarawas County Health Department. (Photo by Stacey Carmany)

*This story originally appeared in the Nov. 15, 2017 issue of The Budget’s Local Edition.

By Stacey Carmany
The Budget

Since retiring in May from the Tuscarawas County Health Department, Dr. William Schultz has been focusing on keeping himself active, both physically and mentally.

Each morning, the 66-year-old Sugarcreek Township resident hits the trails with his bicycle and trusty camera. “I bicycle 10 to 20 miles a day, and I’ve probably been to every trail in Ohio and Eastern Pennsylvania,” he shared. “It just kind of keeps me moving.”

On his rides, Dr. Schultz is never without his camera. “You never know what you’re going to see on the trail,” he explained.

In addition to his bicycling and photography, Dr. Schultz has also been spending some time on another artistic endeavor: sculpting with stone. He  explained that his first got into sculpting about 10 years ago while he practicing in Sugarcreek as a way to relieve work-related stress. “I’ve never taken an art class before. I never had any art background,” he said. “I always thought it would be neat to do something with my anatomy training as far as sculpting, so I got a lump of clay and I just thought I’d just kind of snap it around or whatever to get into it.”

Initially, he worked primarily in clay, both terracotta and white clay. He finished a few pieces, including a bust of Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, before moving on to what he calls his “wood phase” and, eventually, into stone. “I really enjoyed it,” he said. “I started making stuff and I just kind of surprised myself, so it kind of went from there.”

But finding a balance between seeing patients at his busy family medical practice and allowing time for his art proved to be problematic, and, eventually, the sculpting just kind of slipped away.   

Now with plenty of free time, Dr. Schultz has been getting back into his craft. He spent the first several weeks of his retirement clearing out his workshop, which had become a storage facility over the years for all his kids’ junk,” before starting on his first piece in a decade — a sculpture of a bison carved out of a hard type of soapstone. “I had a piece of black stone, and I’m chipping away at this thing,” he shared. “You never know what you’re going to end up with.”

The process begins with a large piece of stone. Over the years, Dr. Schultz has amassed a large collection of stones, most of which was obtained from the town of Bancroft, Canada, near his summer home. “[It] is kind of the mineral capital of Canada, and every year, sculptors from all over Canada would come, and they’d bring with them different stones that were quarried in different areas,” he explained.

After selecting a stone, the artist uses a red pencil to outline the areas that will be removed first through a process known as a rough chip. “I’ll just use the chisel, initially, and just chisel off pieces and just get a rough shape,” he shared. “As I get closer and closer to where I want to be, I’ll use files and rasps and what have you until I get to the final part.”

With the softer varieties of stone, like soapstone, he is able to use carving knives. He noted that he prefers to work with Warther knives because the company will sharpen them for free, even though he’s using them on stone.

Dr. Schultz noted that he enjoys experimenting with a variety of mediums, even if the finished pieces don’t turn out quite like he had originally envisioned. “Some I do better in than others, and I’ll keep my old mistakes just so I can see where I’ve come from and how I’ve progressed,” he stated.

For his next project, Dr. Schultz said he plans to sculpt something out of marble. He recently acquired a few pieces from a friend who had gotten the material from the Cleveland Museum of Art. “They’re changing the facade, so they ripped out all the beautiful white marble,” he explained. “They told somebody, ‘Here, just give us a price and you can just haul it away,’ so he did.”

Dr. Schultz noted that marble is great for holding details but is a little bit more difficult to work with because of its density. “Each media has its pluses and minuses,” he shared. “With soapstone, sometimes you can’t get the detail you want. Marble is very hard to sculpt, but once you get there it’s really rewarding because you can get the detail.”

While he has entered his artwork into competitions in the past, Dr. Schultz said he has no plans to do so with his sculptures at this time. For now, he’s simply enjoying the process of creating, along with a few other hobbies he has picked up over the years, mainly collecting and writing about early surveying equipment and daguerreotype photographs.  

“I think that’s one of the problems with retirement is a lot of folks don’t have anything to do,” he said. “Between the bicycling everyday and doing this type of thing and writing articles and collecting stuff, it’s kept me going.”