Wood Slab Art

I swear there’s something in the water that makes the wildlife act all wonky around here. Not that I’m complaining…Diesel is a legend. But the other animals seem to be in direct competition to claim his title while he hibernates.

My neighbor’s dogs have free rein of the mountain. It’s taken some time to remember this, but I finally no longer scream when Sampson, a giant, lovable German Shepherd, trots quietly into my shop and nudges me. (You should know that I have an obsession with the “wyotes” that roam this area. These brazen wolf/coyote hybrids are like scary unicorns. You know they exist because of their eerie howls, but people rarely see them.  So every time Sampson comes barrel up with his 100+ pounds of lovin’, I think that a wyote is charging me.)

Sampson has gotten into the habit of chasing his owner’s car down the mountain in the morning and then coming to my shop to hang out.

A big, oafy dog who loves to play fetch and a reclaimed wood artist who often fetches things for her job don’t mesh very well.

I’ll be walking in the woods with Sampson trotting on my heels to find downed trees to bring back to my shop for projects. I’ll cut the small trunks to the desired lengths and start to pick them up. Sampson will start whining with glee, slobber profusely, grab a tree and run off.


I made the mistake of laughing when this first happened. Now every single thing I try to pick up, toss on the fire, or even look at while Sampson is there is treated like it’s his personal gift from me.

He thinks it’s a game. I need to break him of this habit, especially after what happened last week.

If you’ve lived in the country for any amount of time, you’ll know that when it gets colder, you begin to wage war against the mice. So every morning, I collect the full traps, put them in a plastic bag, and throw them on the fire pit to have a proper Viking funeral for them at the end of the day while burning my scraps of lumber from the shop. I then go inside and sit in the reading nook to enjoy a cup of coffee before starting my day.

This worked for a few days.

Then one morning, as I’m sipping my coffee, I see Sampson trotting happily past the window with a plastic bag in his mouth, heading up the mountain to his home.

I nearly spray the coffee all over. Jumping up, I run out of the cabin into the cold.

“Sampson!” I scream. “DROP.”

He turns around and stares at me, tail wagging as if to say, “Hey! Thanks for this really awesome gift you left me today! I can’t wait to show it to my mom!”

That’s the LAST thing my neighbor needs or wants to see.

I’ll spare you the rest of the details, but I’ve created a monster. And I have no one to blame but myself. I ignored the warning signs when Sampson got upset earlier this fall when he saw me in the nook and I wouldn’t come out and play with him at sunrise. It wasn’t just a phase when he took the decorative pumpkins from the porch and threw them around, all pissed off.  It sounded like someone was shooting a potato gun in my direction. I’m still finding piles of pumpkins in the woods where Sampson hid them from me like a sullen child.

And as much as some of his antics drive me nuts, I absolutely adore this dog and look forward to his neurotic behavior daily. He’s taught me to be flexible with my schedule and slow down to appreciate the little things. To share the gems I find in the woods. To be more careful about what I put in the fire pit.

Since Sampson has been running off with trees, I’ve been working with live edge pieces that I got in a trade with a local woodworker buddy who considered these trash. In my profession, I’m reminded daily that there is beauty in every broken or discarded thing.

One of my favorite movies of all times is a short film called The Butterfly Circus. It’s absolutely beautiful and makes my heart catch every time I watch it. And I’ve watched it a lot. (You can purchase it on Amazon or view it for free on YouTube at this link:  https://youtu.be/p98KAEif3bI.)

“If you could only see the beauty that can come from ashes…”


These scraps have gotten a new lease on life. Some of these have sold, but the rest are at Vine & Branches Gallery in Bennington.


Great for a mantle, a shelf, or mounted on a wall. Sizes vary from 1-4 feet long. Each piece is sealed with a high-build poly.

That’s all for today. I see Sampson coming.






About Mel

My name is Mel, and I spend my time living, working and playing on the east coast. I'm a reclaimed wood artist who loves to continually find ways to repurpose wood and give it new life. "Nature Calls: Reclaimed Wood Designs" is my business dedicated to doing that! Thanks for stopping by!
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