Local artist Steve Backman on toothpick sculpture 

The San Francisco native and toothpick artist currently has an exhibit on display in Foundry Square IV through Sept. 29. For more information about his work, visit www.toothpickart.com.  

When did you start working with toothpicks? Back in elementary school, I made a DNA strand out of beans and toothpicks. It was extremely frustrating and I ended up hitting it and got a toothpick stuck in my hand. I stopped for a while, but then started making toothpick houses as a hobby and it progressed from there.

How did you decide to start making toothpick art? After taking history and art classes at SFSU, I became inspired to create toothpick cable cars. I then pursued a toothpick model of the Golden Gate Bridge as its 50th anniversary was approaching. Ripley’s Believe it or Not Museum wanted to display it. Since 1992, it has been on display at the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Why toothpicks and not some other object? Toothpicks are really challenging. Each one is different and has its own unique characteristics.

How do you maintain concentration? I like to be in the quiet — no radio, TV or phone calls. Sometimes I take long walks to relieve the tension, but making toothpick art is itself therapeutic. My brother says I have nerves of steel.

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A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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