Printer Friendly

Wood carver is continuing a family tradition.

Byline: Sandy Quadros Bowles

PAXTON - Louis Dennis Jr. uses his woodworking talents to help others carve out a better life.

Several of his creations have raised money for, or the spirits of, those in need. And all his works reflect a family tradition that he decided to follow later in life.

The Paxton resident, who bills himself as The Country Carver, has created personalized canes for returning soldiers who have been injured in combat. He creates these canes by carving an American eagle face for the head and adorning the body of the cane with the veteran's name, rank, ribbons earned and the date of injury.

Mr. Dennis downplays the canes he has made and notes that he is only one of many carvers throughout the country who have created these items through the Eagle Project, a nationwide effort of wood carvers.

But the canes are only part of Mr. Dennis' efforts to help others. Consider, for example, the bag on his kitchen table, which is spilling over with miniature carved chickadees.

The chickadees have plenty of avian company. His home is filled with carvings of birds, including a green-winged teal, a puffin, a merlin and an owl.

Although Mr. Dennis will "carve anything that looks like it might be fun to carve," he particularly enjoys carving birds.

The chickadees, though, serve a special purpose. He is selling them as Christmas tree ornaments through the Tree of Hope, a project of the New England Woodcarvers, a group based in Bedford.

Proceeds from the sales are used to buy items needed by the veterans at the Edith Nourse Rogers Memorial Veterans Hospital in Bedford. During the holiday season, the carvers visit the hospital to distribute the items and host a party for the veterans.

Mr. Dennis' latest creations are considerably larger than the chickadees. He is carving a flying formation of seven Canada geese.

The geese will eventually hang from a beam in the ceiling of the Doyle Conservation Center in Leominster. He created the geese in exchange for the center allowing the New England Woodcarvers to host classes there in October.

He expects the geese to be completed around Thanksgiving.

With the help of numerous Internet photos of Canada geese, Mr. Dennis is carving the birds in a variety of positions. One goose leads the formation, and three pairs follow.

Some will have wings aloft, while others will be posed with wings down. One has a mouth open as if it is honking, which Mr. Dennis admits with a laugh is an all-too-familiar situation.

"I've always dreamed of doing a full-size bird," he said.

Then he laughed. "And now that I've done seven of them, I've just about had it with them."

For Mr. Dennis, who grew up in Beloit, Wis., carving represents a family tradition. His father, Louis Dennis Sr., was a talented artist and master carver whose works are displayed at a museum in Bettendorf, Iowa.

Works carved by the elder Mr. Dennis adorn his son's Paxton home. Among the most striking is a carved depiction of the elder Mr. Dennis' wife, who bears a distinct and poignant resemblance to her son, Louis Dennis Jr.

The elder Mr. Dennis encouraged his son to carry on his love for art. One Christmas, the younger Mr. Dennis remembered, his father gave him a paint-by-numbers set and worked with him to perfect his craft.

But the son wasn't especially interested, or capable, he admitted. "I made it look like mud," he said. "He was disappointed I didn't draw or paint."

He said he still lacks drawing ability, which is why his carving style differs from his father's.

If his dad were carving a giraffe, for example, he would draw one and then follow the design, he said.

But he takes a block of wood and a different approach. "I remove everything that doesn't look like a giraffe," he said with a laugh.

This knowledge came later, however. As a youth, Louis Jr. studied mechanical engineering. His work in this field took him to companies throughout the country before he settled at Kadant Web Systems in Auburn. He worked there for 25 years before leaving his full-time post to serve as a consultant.

The senior Mr. Dennis died in 1993. After his death, his son decided to pick up his father's carving tools and putter.

He started carving and discovered the hobby was a "great release" for stress.

And so, helped by instructors at Carver's Plus in Leominster, Mr. Dennis began working on love spoons, which are an old Welsh custom signifying love and devotion. He gave these spoons to family members at Christmas.

Then he began carving a duck.

And so started a hobby that has provided family holiday gifts, award-winning creations at judged shows and items that raise money for others.

He hopes to host a one-man show in the near future to sell some of his creations. He joked that the time has come to recoup some of his expenses.

But his mood turns reflective as he talks about his father, and how much he wishes he had lived to see his son carry on the tradition.

"I feel bad that I didn't get into it (earlier) and have something for him and me to do together," he said. "Gosh, the fun we could have had."

For more information or to order an ornament for the Tree of Hope, call (508) 757-7303 or e-mail louisdennisii@yahoo.com.

ART: PHOTOS

PHOTOG: T&G Staff Photos/TOM RETTIG

CUTLINE: (1) Award-winning carver Louis E. Dennis of Paxton talks about a goose he is working on in his shop. The finished goose will be displayed at the Doyle Conservation Center in Leominster. (2) This puffin won first place in the Ward World woodcarving competition. (3) Mr. Dennis carves wood canes for injured veterans. He holds a photograph of Cpl. Jeffrey Buchalter of Annandale, N.J., who received a walking stick.
COPYRIGHT 2009 Worcester Telegram & Gazette
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2009 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Aug 27, 2009
Words:988
Previous Article:4-H golf tourney is a success.
Next Article:On hot days, it's cool at the pool.


Related Articles
GLENDALE SHOW DEEP INTO WOOD.
Old Pals.
Awards celebrate B.C. First Nations art: Raven's Eye: special section providing news from BC & Yukon.

Terms of use | Copyright © 2018 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters