Making sawdust, creating art
SEARS — Sawdust covers the floor of a country work shop as Jim Pylman begins crafting new items from a variety of wooden planks that line the walls.
A wood worker and handy man, Pylman has been creating personal and intricate gift items for more than six decades.
Pylman, 79, was born in Grand Ledge, moved to the area in 1949 with his family and is a United States Army veteran. He and his wife, Mary, have been married for 56 years and reside in the house he built on a property in Sears. He collects and restores antique tractors and is member of the Osceola League for Arts and Humanities (OLAH).
“There’s nothing here on this 40 acres I haven’t made,” said Pylman, whose hands offer proof of physical labor. “As to why I love it, one word kind of sums it up: satisfaction.”
Along with building his home and many others, he has made many items that are used inside the residence, including kitchen cabinets, collapsible stools, kitchen tables, a staircase bannister, shelving, desks, head boards and Lazy Susans.
“If we have a need for something, I make it,” he said.
Though he uses all types of wood for his projects, except pine which he considers to be too soft, cherry is his favorite. He said the wood has a type of quality about it that is unmatched, and he enjoys the color-changing effect that takes place as it ages.
Although most of the pieces Pylman crafts are for a simple, practical use around the home, many are works of art.
One of these is a table centerpiece made of cherry wood on which a bowl can rest. With the use of a scroll saw and a pattern, Pylman carved out birds, leaves and swirling vines on each of the centerpiece’s four legs. The most difficult and ornate of his creations, he said the piece took 10 weeks to complete.
“It takes a lot of time, a lot of patience,” he added. “You can release a lot of stress doing this.”
Fellow OLAH board member Renee Tolgo of Tustin has known Pylman for four years and has seen some of the pieces he has displayed at art shows.
“He’s a perfectionist at those things,” said Tolgo, adding she considers the pieces exceptional. “It must have taken a lot of time and patience and planning.”
Pylman said he also has built one-of-a-kind items, including bracelets made from thin, laminated strips of colorful exotic wood and a wooden toy train set, which he said is detailed and in the possession of his daughter-in-law, Karen Pylman.
“I think it’s one of the best pieces I’ve ever done,” he said.
Karen said the train was given to her children and was a surprise when it was delivered.
“We were just flabbergasted. We didn’t even know he was doing it. It’s gorgeous,” she said.
It will be passed to her grandchild when he is a little older, Karen added.
Other items for family members include cedar chests, jewelry boxes and other mementos that will serve as heirlooms as time continues.
“It’s a heritage that the kids will have forever,” Karen said.
Even her coffee table has a special history that is standing the test of time.
“It is actually made of the wood floor of Evart High School, which is now the middle school,” she added.
Though most of his wood working is done throughout the winter months, Pylman said he will continue to create pieces when necessary and when he finds a pattern he is eager to try.
Now, he is preparing to offer wood working classes through OLAH from 9 a.m. to noon May 6, 13 and 20 and from 6 to 9 p.m. May 9, 16 and 23 at his home in Evart.
Classes will cost $20 plus the cost of materials. To register or for more information, call Renee Tolgo at