Chain saw artist turns hurricane-damaged tree into work of art

Donna Price

Hurricane Laura was not kind to the old magnolia tree near the corner of Kirby Street and Louisiana Avenue. It was toppled and broken in the storm, and the top of the old tree fell on the house at 1028 Kirby St. owned by Rick and Donna Richard.

The tree debris was a mess, but the Richards chose not to cut it all up and haul it away. Instead, they had the tree righted, topped it off and contacted chain saw carving artist Della Meredith. The Richards tasked her with making something beautiful out of the wreckage of the storm.

“The old magnolia was special to them,” Meredith said.

Meredith set to work. Three days and four chain saws later, she transformed the base of the old tree into a cottage house, complete with magnolia trees in front.

It was a tough carve, she said.

“I’m only 5 feet 2 inches tall. That tree was almost as wide as I am tall. And I had never done a magnolia before. It’s a hard wood,” she said.

Not only that, but the dust produced by carving into magnolia wood is “sticky,” she said, resulting in her having to put her chain saws in the shop after the carving was done to get them back in working order.

Meredith colored parts of the tree sculpture with a dark stain and used exterior paint on other sections of it, before putting a sealer over the whole thing.

Homeowner Donna Richard is delighted to have this new “house” in the downtown historic district.

“I’m just happy that the sculpture is bringing smiles to people’s faces in our tree-damaged town,” said Richard. “I’ve been in mourning for that old magnolia and now it has a new life.”

As for Meredith, the La Porte, Texas, artist said she is currently working on another storm damaged tree project in Lake Charles — this time transforming an oak tree into a pelican.

Online: Chainsawdella.com, or on Facebook: Della Meredith Chainsaw Carvings.The remains of a storm damaged tree at the corner of Kirby Street and Louisiana Avenue have undergone a transformation at the hands of Della Meredthi. A foot or so above the ground, the trunk has been carved to look like a house, complete with a staircase leading up to the front door and some magnolia trees out front.

Donna Price

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