Well over a decade ago, a horrendous motorcycle accident left wood-sculptor Derek Dame paralyzed. The injuries to his brain were inoperable, and he spent many months in the hospital. Dame’s determination along with months of speech and physical therapy allowed him to learn to talk and walk again.
Upon returning home, Dame’s father-in-law took him to a boot shop in Dallas. There they both noticed an ornately carved totem pole. “I bet you can’t do that,” challenged the father-in-law. “He shouldn’t have told me that,” replied Dame. Those six little words stuck with him. Dame knew he had overcome insurmountable odds and therefore believed he could carve a totem. Though still partially paralyzed on his right side, Dame managed to train his right arm to pound a hammer. He joked, “I had many a bruised knuckle.” Dame soon attempted his first carving working with a chisel, a screw driver and a hammer. “It looked just like a totem pole, and I went from there,” he said.
According to Dame, carving wood proved to be art therapy while he continued to heal. He explained that the work helped to develop his motor skills. “It felt great and is my release,” said Dame.
He then returned to school to obtain a commercial art degree. Dame excelled in the program as a sculptor. In fact, his UT Tyler art professor told him he was “wasting his time here.” His professor encouraged him to move on and “make a way in the art field.”
Never one to falter, Dame said he “kept pounding, kept carving and kept on selling by myself.” He added, “I’ve always been passionate and persistent,” he added.
Not four months after moving to the Bay Area, Dame attained a full-time wood sculpting job with a local palapa company. There, he creates tikis and other such tropical décor from whimsical fish and mermaids to highly ornate pieces. Dame said he loves carving for a living and seeing satisfied buyers. He said, “I’ll just keep pounding away.”
For commissions or more information, contact Derek Dame 281-508-4332.