A stump reborn through friendship

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By Leo Wolfson

Rising out of David Martinez’s yard at 144 Second St. stands a piece of wood that sings, hoots, swims, and growls.


Thanks to wood carver Robert Lyon, a chestnut-brown bear, a white-capped eagle, an aquamarine fish and a stoic owl, now stand guard over what was once just an old tree stump.

“It meant a lot to me. I had a stump - something that was an eyesore,” said Martinez.

Starting with what was originally an estimated 40-foot elm tree base, Lyon hacked and chain-sawed his masterpiece over the course of just one week.

“Elm is such a cool wood, such a good wood to carve,” said Lyon.

Lyon says crafting the wood sculptures was an idea Martinez talked about for about a year when the two lived together. It shows Lyon’s appreciation for Martinez’s hospitality when he lived with him the previous year.

“He’s my friend, I just wanted to help him out,” said Lyon.

The project was originally planned as a rowboat to honor Martinez’s love for fishing, but the two decided to change to the four animals shortly after Lyon started carving.

After weeks of work, the new tree that Lyon refers to as “Tree Amigos” started coming to fruition. Removing the outside bark, Lyon kept sawing, making thin downward slices, bringing the outlines of the owl, eagle, and bear to life.

Lyon stained, painted and airbrushed the carvings, sparing no details; even taking the time to color in a way to make the tree rings pop out. Using a tool known as a wire wheel, Lyon burns the inside of the tree, and then cuts out aspects around the tree rings. Doing such helps the tree rings stand out as bold and defined piece of texture.

“I told him to please try and get the tree rings to pop out and he did just that,” said Martinez.

Martinez says the owl is his favorite of the four animals.

“The owl is pretty breathtaking, but it’s just a sliver of the work he (Lyon) does,” said Martinez.

Lyon will do artwork with any tree stump and also does many standalone individual wood carvings with his Colorado Carvings company, like miniature bears, eagles and even giraffes. He cut his teeth as wood carver after serving in the military, working and assisting carver Jesse Beeson and famous Boulder rock carving artist Bongo Love.

“It was a really good experience because he (Bongo Love) was already going to all these competitions, and he plays music, so we were doing all that,” said Lyon.

Lyon now joins Love at wood-carving competitions throughout the year, recently producing a giant eagle at the town of Frederick’s Chainsaws and Chuckwagons event.

One of Martinez’s favorite aspects of Lyon’s work is that it’s raising the stature of the local community.

“It put my whole block on the map. It gave my whole block motivation to do something more,” said Martinez.

To learn more about Lyon’s work visit Lyonshop.com. To see a video of Lyon creating the Tree Amigos piece, visit youtube.com/watch?v=H5gOBeSbtaA.