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MARQUETTE – At FinnFest 2013 in the Copper Country this past June, Marc Himes had a table showcasing his woodturning pieces when he was approached by someone with a question.

“Somebody at FinnFest asked me if this is what I do to relax,” Himes said. “I told him this is what I do for excitement.”

On July 31, Himes retired after 34 years of being a doctor in Marquette, more specifically a nephrologist (kidney specialist).

Now he’s pursuing his longtime avocation: Woodturning, a form of art using a lathe in which the wood itself is turned to make objects.

“This was just my hobby,” Himes said of woodturning, adding with a smile: “I couldn’t do more than 70 hours a week before.”

FinnFest was the first of what Himes hopes will be many shows, events he can now attend because he’s not pursuing the crazy busy schedule he had as a full-time doctor.

Born in Kansas, Himes moved to downstate Ann Arbor when he was in the fifth grade. His father, Harold, was a professor of architecture at the University of Michigan.

It was through his mother, Esther Hakkola Himes, that he had an Upper Peninsula connection.

“My mother was from Eben,” Himes said. “We would visit my grandfather’s farm, making hay and taking saunas. I had three aunts, seven uncles and 40 cousins up here.”

Himes graduated from the U of M medical school, then went to Minneapolis for a residency when he saw an advertisement from Dr. Dan Mazzuchi in Marquette, who was looking for a partner in his practice.

“I decided to go into nephrology so I could go to Marquette,” he said. “I came to the area in 1979 and have lived here ever since.”

A blended family, Himes had five children and his wife, Rene, had three, but both lost a son. And between them, they have 17 grandchildren. While he’s enjoying having more time for his family, Himes also is pleased he can spend more time on his art.

“I used to do pottery in high school and college as a hobby,” he said. “My dad did woodturning and I was introduced to it by him and I did do a little. When he passed away in 1999, I got his lathe.

“In 2005, I got my own shop set up,” Himes said. The shop is at his home in Negaunee. “I have been doing woodturning regularly since then and have taken classes.”

What does Himes enjoy about this style of art?

“It’s very beautiful. It’s always different,” he said. “You never know what you’re going to find under the bark. Color pieces offer different dimension.”

Not even two months into retirement, Himes is in the process of adjusting.

“It’s all new,” he said. “I am still just realizing I don’t have a schedule. With my shop being at home, I find I am up at 2 o’clock in the morning woodturning. I don’t have an alarm any more.

“There are a lot of things I want to do,” Himes said. “I want to get more into the artistic type and less into the functional type. People have a lot more room for wall hangings than they do for things on their tables. And I would like to combine metal with the wood. “Everything is always an experiment.”

Himes is a member of the American Association of Woodturners and Lake Superior Art Association. He is one of the founders – along with Norm Hefke and Dennis Bell – of the Superiorland Woodturners.

He’s won awards from the LSAA in 2013 and at the Bonifas Art Center in Escanaba’s Northern Exposure Exhibit in 2012.

For more on Himes’ art, visit marchimeswoodturnedart.com.

Renee Prusi can be contacted at 906-228-2500, ext. 253.