Freeform Sculpture Piece, Kansas Black Walnut, Flint Hills found Cedar Log, A gift for a Donor

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Project by Mark A. DeCou posted 04-12-2009 04:28 AM 3656 views 0 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch


this piece is not for sale.

Dimensions and Specs:
- Length: 27 inches
- Width: 14 inches
- Height: 6 inches
- Wood: Kansas Flint Hills Black Walnut
- Base: Salvaged Kansas Cedar Tree

If you like this sort of project, I have another one, Click here to see it



Project Story:

Almost three years ago, a neighbor came up to me after the kids finished their Vacation Bible School final night program presentation.

Do you ever needs trees?” he asked me.

Yes, all the time, why?” I replied.

I have some walnut trees I cut down,” he went on.

I’d love them, but I don’t have any money to pay for anything right now,” I responded.

I’m going to just give you one of them if you think you can use it,” he went on.


So, back in December of 2008 while the economy was falling fast, I finally had a scheduled date at the lumbermill to have the logs cut up, 5 of them total, one really big one, the others were smaller.

I had only expected one log, but ended up with five.

His daughter told me the reason for the extra logs.

About a year ago, the guy had a battle with some cancer and recovered. Then, this past summer, he was having some more problems, this time a blocked cartoid artery in his neck. His doctor scheduled an operation to open up the blocked artery.

He was, understandably, a little nervous about not making it through the operation, so two days before he went into the hospital he took his tractor and headed out for the pastures to round up the logs. And, the temperature that day was close to 100 degrees.

When his daughter, and the rest of the family, confronted him about his planned activities, two days before his operation, he told them, ”I have to get those logs rounded up for Mark and over to the Lumbermill….if something happens to me in surgery, nobody will know where to find those logs….”

And he did go get them that day, and hauled them to the lumbermill for me. And then, he survived the operation also. Thank God!

It is neighbors like that which give me warm fuzzy feelings all over. I’ve lived around mostly nice people most of my life, but these Kansas Flint Hills are filled with the nicest folks you’d ever want to meet. They don’t just wave from across the yard as they drive into their garage at night, but they really like to help with whatever a guy needs help with, including finding wood, or antlers, walking stick saplings, and on and on.

So, I know it is not enough of a payback, this sculpture piece, but I made him this Freeform Sculpture piece out of one of the “outside slabs” that normally gets tossed into the lumbermill owner’s wood stove.

I took home almost every scrap of those walnut trees after they were cut up into slabs and planks, and other big sections. I will use the sawn wood for some Nakashima-Inspired pieces, and mantels one of these days. I can’t hardly wait until they are all dry, and ready to use.

The twisted cedar log piece I used for the base, loops into a neat little “S” shape and fits under the bowl form to hold it up nice and steady and provide a colorful frame for the walnut vessel. I found the Cedar Log, just a small section, that had floated down a rain wash gully ditch in a pasture in my area.

I saw it from the bank, while on a nature walk with the kids, keeping an eye out for Deer Shed Antlers. After spotting the twisted log piece, I climbed down into the ravine to dig it out, knowing I would find a way to use it.

I had to chase out an Ant nest, and a big wood boring bee, but then it was all mine.

And soon, it will be all his.

I’ll surprise my neighbor with the return gift in a couple of weeks, after I show this Vessel at an art show next weekend.

thanks for reading,
Mark DeCou

-- Mark DeCou - American Contemporary Craft Artisan -

9 comments so far

View Karson's profile


35202 posts in 4912 days

#1 posted 04-12-2009 04:34 AM

Mark A beautiful piece. Great job.

-- 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 Kate's profile


400 posts in 4386 days

#2 posted 04-12-2009 04:45 AM

Great story to go with a great post.
Hope your neighbor is doing well.

-- Kate,

View trifern's profile


8135 posts in 4279 days

#3 posted 04-12-2009 03:06 PM

Beautiful piece, Mark. I’m sure your friend will be more than pleased.

-- My favorite piece is my last one, my best piece is my next one.

View dennis mitchell's profile

dennis mitchell

3994 posts in 4826 days

#4 posted 04-12-2009 03:54 PM

The vessel contrasts very well with the base. Simple….natural form. Beautiful.

View scott shangraw's profile

scott shangraw

513 posts in 4581 days

#5 posted 04-12-2009 05:06 PM

Nice use of the twisted piece as a base.Another great bowl ,ugh I mean vessel !!

-- Scott NM,

View Lee A. Jesberger's profile

Lee A. Jesberger

6866 posts in 4491 days

#6 posted 04-12-2009 05:42 PM

Hi Mark;

Nice write up, and beautiful work.


-- by Lee A. Jesberger

View jockmike2's profile


10635 posts in 4758 days

#7 posted 04-12-2009 06:14 PM

I owe you too buddy, big time. I’ve had so many compliments on that cane, and I’ve only used it about 3 times, last time was this past week, at my Uncles funeral. People wanted to know if I made it and of course I told them all about this great artist friend I had in the Flinthills of Kansas and that he made all kinds of beautiful stuff not just canes. The old men in church were looking at it very envious, which was sinning right there. But I told them all how to get hold of you if they wanted one specially made just for them and they were indeed impressed. I still feel very fortunate to have you as a friend, and like I said I am indebted to you, and I have not given up on the caribou horns yet. So bear with me. This piece is remarkable. I forgot what a fine sculpture you were. m

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

View mmh's profile


3679 posts in 4234 days

#8 posted 04-12-2009 07:34 PM

The piece is beautiful, but not as beautiful as your story and history of the wood.

-- "They who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night." ~ Edgar Allan Poe

View a1Jim's profile


117722 posts in 4089 days

#9 posted 04-12-2009 07:35 PM

another unique and beautiful work. Well done

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