Gary Suidikas stands beside some of his artwork.
Gary Suidikas stands beside some of his artwork. (-, Photo by Lyndi McNulty)

Gary Suidikas, of Westminster, has a passion for creating art using wood and glass.

He taught himself to draw and paint as a child. Growing up, he moved all around Europe, as his father was in the military.

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When he lived in Denmark and Germany, his family did not have television or radio, so he entertained himself with art.

Suidikas took a woodworking class in high school, but said that was the only formal training he's ever had. In high school, he built a coffee table, a book shelf and a magazine rack.

In 1965, Suidikas went into the Army and worked for the Army Security Agency in Army intelligence. He was stationed in a range of different countries, from Korea to Africa.

When he was stationed in Asmira, Ethiopia, he began to put together model car kits and took up photography as a hobby.

After he left the Army, Suidikas worked for the Texaco in an oil refinery in El Paso, Texas. Then he was contacted by the Department of Defense where he worked for 29 years.

When he was transferred to England, he met the woman who would become his wife. He stayed in England for nine years, eventually welcoming both of his children while there.

When Suidikas and his family moved back to the United States, they lived in Baltimore, but his job took him around the world. He was in 35 different countries in 52 missions internationally.

In 1987, Suidikas and his family moved to Westminster. In 2010, after he had retired, he took a stained glass class at Carroll Community College.

"I really enjoyed class and creating art out of glass," he said.

His teacher told him he had a natural talent for it. She also introduced him to fused glass.

In 2012, Suidikas had extra glass from his stained glass projects that he planned to donate to the Westminster Senior and Community Center.

But when he took the work to the facility, he said, he "never left." He became the volunteer stained glass instructor there. When he started teaching, only six people were in his class. Now, he has 23 students.

Suidikas said he has always liked photography.

"I am never without my camera and have taken thousands of photographs," he said. "I like going out to Bear Branch Nature Center."

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Since he enjoys photography and loves birds, Suidikas decided to create a raven in stained glass. His image is a raven on a branch under a moon. He also built a rack to hold it so it could be displayed free standing.

Suidikas also took a basics class on fused glass at a stained glass shop in Frederick. Shortly thereafter, he began making things up to create original artwork.

He said he likes taking artwork and putting it in glass. One of the images he created is of a Persian dancer.

He also does ship modeling. Most of his ships are "plank on frame," which means they are built one plank at a time as real ships are.

He said he prefers to build the sailing ships and fishing trawlers out of wood, including exotic foreign woods, walnut and maple.

One of his more intricate art projects is based on the stories of Sherlock Holmes, which he and his wife have long enjoyed.

"The characters in the story are always traveling in London in the Hansom cabs," he said. "So I decided to make a model of one."

After unsuccesfuly attempting to find a kit online, he decided to make one himself. He found a company in Montana that had plans for a full size one. He bought the plans and built a model of it, made from poplar and basswood with some walnut and mahogany. The interior is done with wallpaper and wood paneling.

"It took me a couple hundred hours easily to make it," Suidikas said.

Suidikas said his artwork gives him great enjoyment.

"I get the satisfaction of creating something with my hands that is unique," Suidikas said. "This is hobby and not a business."

Lyndi McNulty is the owner of Gizmos Art in Westminster. Her column appears on the first and third Wednesday of each month.

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