The First "DeCou Studio" Road Billboard Sign 12-31-2006

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Blog entry by Mark A. DeCou posted 12-31-2006 08:05 PM 1825 reads 0 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch

About Three weeks ago, I received an unexpected visit from another Lumberjock. Joel Tille drove down from Iowa and stopped in the little town of Elmdale where my post office is located to find me. He went into the little cafe/store to ask about how to find me, but the local lady didn’t know who I was, so she gave him the phone book, and he looked us up and called for directions.

We enjoyed visiting, sharing stories, and getting to know each other, a tribute to how the lumberjocks site can connect people with a passion for woodworking, and a desire for comraderie.

Since Joel’s visit, I have been a little concerned about why the local people didn’t know me. I have lived in the area for the past 8 years, but since I wasn’t born here, I suppose I am still a new comer. To provide some exposure to my work in the local area, I carved out a little road sign that I posted up on the rack of names and directions.

This rack has been in the area a long time. I’m not sure how long, but long enough that people still have signs up when they have been dead for many, many years, and the family has since sold the property. My wife and I are thinking we will give the old rack a new paint job this spring, and then maybe some of the new neighbors will start putting up their own signs again.

I don’t know if this little sign would have helped Joel find me, but maybe in the future the local people can be more help to other visitors and tourists. I posted a photo of the sign below.


-- Mark DeCou - American Contemporary Craft Artisan -

12 comments so far

View Karson's profile


35276 posts in 5525 days

#1 posted 12-31-2006 10:21 PM

Mark: Who did you have to move down the sign, so you could get the top billing. Very nice by the way. You might expect a visit from me when I get to Kansas City to visit my in-laws.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia [email protected]

View dennis mitchell's profile

dennis mitchell

3994 posts in 5439 days

#2 posted 12-31-2006 10:22 PM

Its the Big Time now Mark!

View Don's profile


2603 posts in 5301 days

#3 posted 01-01-2007 12:44 AM

This is a classic Win-Win. Your do a little advertising, and restore an old town tradition.

-- CanuckDon "I just love small wooden boxes!"

View Obi's profile


2214 posts in 5361 days

#4 posted 01-01-2007 12:52 AM

Mark’s sign probably replaced the old dead guy who had his sign made out of particle board.
It was meant to be this way … Local paper can now read “Local Lumberjock Gets Top Billing” You’re gonna start a trend, now all the Lumberjocks are going to go find the “WELCOME” sign in their city and start poasting custom made wooden signs… Now everybody is gonna have more work, there goes the early morning coffee breaks on the computer. Thanks Mark (trouble maker) hahahaha

View scottb's profile


3648 posts in 5451 days

#5 posted 01-01-2007 02:29 AM

Very nice… give it a few months, and everyone will think it (and you) have always been there!

-- I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it. - Van Gogh -- --

View Mark A. DeCou's profile

Mark A. DeCou

2009 posts in 5530 days

#6 posted 01-02-2007 12:55 AM

I didn’t take any “before” photos, I guess I should have. I did take down three signs that I knew were outdated and the people are long gone. The other 4 signs I left up were for people that I didn’t know their status.

This was the first time I carved a raised relief sign using my photograph as a pattern. Transferring a color photograph into two color carving was fun, but was difficult for me, since I don’t have any graphic arts background. I looked at Norm Abrams’ sign for the New Yankee Workshop to get an idea of how the shading, and ripples in his shirt were turned into a two-color pattern. I think they also took a little circumference out around his waist, so I added a little more hair to my head. Is that wrong?

After reading Obi’s note, I’m wondering if I ought to move my sign down the rack a little bit. I sure don’t want to offend any of the neighbors.

Karson: we are two hours of driving from Olathe, KS, which is the south-west corner of the KC area. We would love to have you visit if you can.

thanks folks,

-- Mark DeCou - American Contemporary Craft Artisan -

View scottb's profile


3648 posts in 5451 days

#7 posted 01-02-2007 02:58 AM

If you cleaned up the sign, then the top spot is yours… if another business wants on the sign, then you’ll have to work out placement. My 2 cents…

-- I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it. - Van Gogh -- --

View Dick, & Barb Cain's profile

Dick, & Barb Cain

8693 posts in 5424 days

#8 posted 01-02-2007 02:52 PM

Very attractive sign, just think, if you had your Compu-Carver, you could spred your signs all over the county.

-- -** You are never to old to set another goal or to dream a new dream ****************** Dick, & Barb Cain, Hibbing, MN.

View jockmike2's profile


10635 posts in 5371 days

#9 posted 01-02-2007 03:56 PM

Remember when we were talking about Maloof, he still advertises in one way or another, you gotta start somewhere. Start at the beginning. Word of mouth, there is no better free advertising. Good luck bud, mike

-- (You just have to please the man in the Mirror) Mike from Michigan -

View Ethan Sincox's profile

Ethan Sincox

767 posts in 5298 days

#10 posted 01-02-2007 05:14 PM

I got a tattoo in Olathe, KS, once…

Sorry… What I meant to say was, “Great sign, Mark!” Can you post a close-up of just the sign? I’d love to see a little more detail on how you carved yourself three-dimensionally…

-- Ethan,

View Mark A. DeCou's profile

Mark A. DeCou

2009 posts in 5530 days

#11 posted 01-02-2007 05:59 PM

Hey RedHeadedMerganser:
I will take a close-up photo and get it posted. The photo was translated into a black and white 2-d image to keep it simple and quick to carve. I did this by printing out the photo in black and white on my inkjet printer. Then, I taped the printout on the window of my shop, then by squinting my eyes, I used a black Sharpee marker to indicate what areas were to be black (raised) and white (recessed). I would do a better job the second time for sure.

Also, I used CCA Treated Pine for the sign board, and I didn’t really want to do much carving on it. I decided that next time I would use Kiln Dried Cedar, or Redwood for such a sign.

As I was carving this sign, I was wishing that I had a CompuCarve to use. I decided that afternoon when I made this sign that if I started getting any orders for signs like this, then I would try to find the funds to get the CompuCarve, as this would have been an excellent situation to use such a tool.

-- Mark DeCou - American Contemporary Craft Artisan -

View Joel Tille's profile

Joel Tille

213 posts in 5368 days

#12 posted 01-02-2007 09:17 PM

Mark, I will look for the new sign next time.

It was a little tough finding Mark, but the trip was well worth it. In our area of Iowa, we have gravel roads basically running north and south every mile. It was about an 8 hour trip down to Mark’s place.

Mark was working on a hall tree for someone when I arrived, inlayed initials on all four sides. I beleive he said it was a four generation initial set. I really enjoyed my time sitting and talking with Mark. Mark gave me some tips for helping exand my woodworking skills. You can post and email all you want, but sometimes a little hands on is what it takes. It will be a trip I plan to make again, hopefully I can spend a little more time with Mark and his family. And as like with alot of others I have seen him corrospond with, he encouraged me to try something harder than I think I can do.

As I was getting ready to leave, with a couple of Shelli’s fried chicken sandwiches, Mark and I talked near my pickup. I can see why Mark loves his plot, it was very peaceful. Only the slight sound of oil pumps in the distance.

-- Joel Tille

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