Category Archives: Christmas Ornaments

May Snow brings December birdhouse ornaments

ScrubbyBirdhouses Late snowstorms have broken lots of branches in the Pikes Peak Region.   Our native Gambel scrub oaks provided the natural edge roofs for a new crop of Christmas ornaments from Dennis.  The storms have kept him in the shop for an early start on the 2017 Christmas season.

The base repeats the pattern of dark heartwood surrounded by the lighter sapwood.  The perches are blackwood, ebony, or walnut.

Gambel oaks are adapted to Colorado’s variable winter temperatures.  The cells in the wood burst when frozen in the live tree, which does not die.  This makes a uniquely unstable wood for the turner for it splits easily.  It is rare, however, to get this oak in diameters over four inches.


A perennial favorite!

5snowmenWeb  Aspen Snowmen are a natural way to celebrate our native wood, and our famous winter sporting climate.

Dennis makes the snowmen in several sizes, as sculptures,  as 5″ tall upside-down salt shakers, and as Christmas ornaments.

The hats are turned from urban forest trees–primarily walnut.


Snowmen Acting Up Again…

B&WSnowmen   Some of the aspen snowmen made by Dennis were caught here in newspaper black and white by Nick Agar.  They appear to be plotting something nefarious while vigorously puffing on their turned pipes.   This year’s fellows all have names and distinct personalities.  They will appear this winter at the St. Peter’s School Holiday Botique, and then again at the Broadmoor’s Christmas House holiday weekend, November 27 and 28.

Remembering the world before zombies….

5snowmenWebSnowmen turned from aspen with walnut top hats gather in the Liggett woodshop with those enigmatic smiles that we all remember from a more innocent time…. maybe the time of Calvin and Hobbes, when snowmen played a variety of roles in winter cartoon strips.     To about 9″ total height–call Dennis if you need one or several for a collection or a centerpiece  (719-481-8754).

A forest of trees for Christmas!


Dennis and two fellow woodturners cut down an ailing honey locust tree in Skyway during a warm spell in October.  This little forest was made from the branch wood.

Branches are always challenging for the woodturner.  They move and sway in the wind, so there may be unusual stresses in the wood.  They are often nearly horizontal, which means that the lower side is more dense than the upper side, creating ‘reaction wood’ on the dense side.  It can sometimes split when the weight of the branch is changed.

These trees are relatively easy for an experienced turner to produce.  Some flaws add a record of the tree’s life to the project.  Others may split wide open on the lathe, or even later as the wood continues to dry out.

Dennis made four different sets of the trees, with crushed stone added on the edges, and a lovely platter to organize the trees as a centerpiece or mantel decoration.  The set pictured here includes crushed malachite.3treesWeb


2013 Christmas ornament

This is the first time that Dennis and Kay have worked together to produce one-of-a-kind ornaments.

Dennis turns the four parts of the birdhouse:  roof, body, perch, and bottom finial.   Kay decorates each roof with permanent inks.  The patterns come from Zentangle®  forms and Kay’s own quilting patterns.  They are done spontaneously, so each one is different.  The Zentangle method is a fun way to create images by drawing structured patterns.  It was created by Rick Roberts and Maria Thomas.

The roofs are all turned from aspen, which takes the ink like a high quality vellum surface.  The perch and finial are holly.  The bodies are made from either American cherry or walnut.

After each part is completed, Dennis applies finish, and installs the hanging eyelet and hook.   The roof and body are remounted on the lathe for a final polish before the birdhouse is glued together.


Magic Christmas of Making

Dick Jones, Scott Longberry, and Milo Scott helped Dennis create a very magical Christmas for kids at the Boadmoor’s Christmas house over the weekend of Nov 28-December 1st.  Dennis, Milo, and Scott took turns making tops for kids waiting in line to see Santa Claus.  There is a certain magic to seeing something made right before your eyes that stands up well to the hysteria of ‘Black Friday.’   A special thanks goes to Larry Fox for loaning the group of Pikes Peak Woodturners the tent for a stellar display of Christmas ornaments and turned bracelets and bowls.

Birdhouses? Why Birdhouses?

Dennis can make a variety of things on the lathe, but as Christmas approaches, he always returns to the Birdhouse Ornaments.

Of all the ornaments he has created, the simple Birdhouse just looks right on any Christmas tree.  By itself, you might notice the type of wood, the shape of the roof, the lovely curve of the ‘house,’ and the teeny perch in front of the door.   All of these same features show to good advantage among the pine needles of your tree.  This ornament is too small for a bird, but just right to contain a song, or the memory of home.

Dennis will be at the Christmas House at the Broadmoor again this year, with a variety of birdhouse ornaments for sale.  Look for him just outside the white tent, demonstrating on the lathe for kids waiting in line for Santa.   November 29, 30th (Reindeer Day), and December 1st.

Turning al fresco

Dennis spent the Thanksgiving weekend turning and selling Christmas ornaments at the Broadmoor’s Christmas House.   He set up the mini-lathe in the courtyard right next to the line for Santa Claus photos and delighted dozens of children with little turned Christmas trees.

Many of the men in the crowd watched wistfully as Dennis worked.  For some of them, it has been several decades since they used a lathe in wood shop classes.

The demonstration is a key step for understanding why hand-turned ornaments are heirlooms, and not just mass-produced Christmas glitz.   Dennis and his friend, Dick Jones, each sold through quite a bit of the inventory they brought to the tent.

Dennis is grateful to Dick Jones for sales assistance, Larry Fox for use of the tent, Scott Longberry for lighting fixtures, Gabe Caunt for hauling, his grandsons Bradley and Brandon for set-up help, and the Harding Nursery for inviting him to join their tree lot at the Christmas House.

‘Tis the season…


For 2010, Dennis has chosen a colorful roof, perch, and finial to highlight this simple bird house turned from Colorado Aspen.  A variety of colors creates a luscious mixture  in bright candy colors.

The birdhouses are a limited production run, which will be available at the LoMere coffee house in Monument, or from Dennis: 719-481-8754.

Woodturners will note that each house has 5 turned elements:  upper finial, roof, body, perch, and lower finial.