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Resident turns reclaimed wood into art

By JOYANNA LOVE/Senior Staff Writer

Each drive turns into a treasure hunt for artist Dennis Emmons of Clanton as he scans for downed branches and discarded wood.

His enjoyment of the craft began in 2013 after helping a friend with some wood projects.

After creating a whale with his friend, Emmons set up a workshop in his basement.

“I lived by a little lake in Trussville,” Emmons said. “It was the Little Cahaba, so every time it rained, the water would come up.”

When the water receded, Emmons would find wood washed up onshore.

“I would find an old piece of wood and you have to pressure wash it and then you have to grind on it and sand on it,” Emmons said. “You really don’t know what you have got until you get down to the wood (under the bark).”

One of his favorite things to make with the wood is crosses.

“Jesus is my Savior, and He has blessed me with this talent that I might have,” Emmons said. “I like to have at least 100 crosses when I am selling my merchandise that I like to give away.”

He especially likes giving them to children who walk by with their parents. Many times, it serves as an opportunity for the parent to explain the meaning behind the cross.

“Every cross I make is different,” Emmons said. “The wood grain is different.”

He said the pieces are very durable and can be treasured for a long time.

“There is a story behind each one,” Emmons said. “There might be a fallen tree … at one of the Alabama rivers or lakes. It might be the root of a tree, and I will saw that root and put it with a branch of something.”

He prefers working with hardwood.

“They are easier to work with,” Emmons said. “They hold together.”

The cross-art pieces often serve as conversation starters as they draw people in.

“When I go to a show, I noticed the kids our drawn over to it right away,” Emmons said.

He said the art has been therapeutic for him.

Many of his other art pieces also draw inspiration from Christian symbolism.

While Emmons does not go out to shows as much anymore, at one time he was doing one art show or church craft day per month.

He said he enjoyed meeting the people that came to the events.