OLD TOWN, Maine — In between working long shifts at the United Parcel Service and chasing after his young kids, Old Town artist Shawn Bennett spends time in his garage studio, transforming scrap pieces of wood and metal into one-of-a-kind sculptures.
The self-taught artist who founded his own business, Fallen Hollow Creations, has been woodworking for most of his life — and the craft seems to be one passed down through generations.
The 28-year-old Pittsfield native grew up in a family of craftsmen, with grandparents who made careers in carpentry and tool sales. His parents were supportive of his artistic endeavors from a young age, too, he said.
For Christmas one year during his childhood, Bennet received a huge stack of sketchbooks from family members. He still has some that haven’t been filled up with drawings yet, he said.
Bennett also picked up many of his construction and welding skills from different labor jobs through the years. “I basically came up with a plan that I wanted to be a jack of all trades,” he said. At 22, he started making metal sculptures and later moved on to woodworking.
But about four years ago, he began investing more time into designing wooden sculptures to sell locally.
Whenever he finished a new creation, he’d showcase it on the side of the road for people to see while driving by. Still, most of Bennett’s commissions rely on word of mouth.
After learning about Bennett’s work, Heidi Gifford, owner of Country Kids Daycare in Bradley, reached out to him on Facebook and asked if he would be willing to give a carving demonstration for the daycare children.
Gifford said she was looking for an activity for the kids to enjoy as the coronavirus pandemic forced her to cancel most of the daycare’s planned field trips. From a safe distance, children watched Bennett carve a small wooden bear with his chainsaw outside of the daycare earlier this month.
Gifford later bought the bear, and prominently displayed it on her front porch so the kids could remember the experience.
“He’s very talented and he did an amazing job,” she said. “It was really something to see.”
While Bennett gets many commissions for bear sculptures with welcome signs, he also does carvings of animals such as eagles, otters, owls and more. Last summer, he created a small community library out of a tree stump for an Orono resident.
Now, he has enough commissioned pieces to keep him busy for the next few months. Bennett said he hopes one day to have his own sawmill and turn this passion into a full-time career.
People can learn more about Bennett’s creations or request commissions via his Facebook Page.