OSCEOLA, Iowa -- When Allen Hendrickson had a heart attack in 2012, it meant the end of his career pouring concrete.
“We poured the concrete, laid it, finished it, whether it be streets, parking lots, buildings,” said Hendrickson. “I would work on average 80 hours a week, I’m sure that had a lot to do with the heart condition.”
As much as he didn’t want to give that work up, it was advice from his doctor that made the decision.
“The doctor said, 'you're done. You're not able gonna be able to go back to do it, if you do, you're going to end up dead,'” said Hendrickson.
The now-former concrete worker was able to get on Social Security Disability, but also needed to care for his wife, Vanessa, who was also having health problems. Hendrickson decided to supplement the income by doing simple craft-type wood projects.
“I got on the internet and would look at a bunch of different stuff to see what else I could do to make money,” said Hendrickson. “Came across what they call intarsia wood art, and had no idea how to even do it.
Intarsia is portrait or 3D art pieces made of different colors of wood that paint a portrait or symbol. Hendrickson watched YouTube videos and talked to artists who had experience with this type of art.
“Best way to start is on a cheap piece of wood draw a maple leaf and practice,” Hendrickson said artists told him. “So that’s what I did.”
Eventually he began to get the hang of it. He showed his work around Osceola and received positive responses. The school district asked him to make a chief to use in the schools as a wooden mascot. Hendrickson posted photos of his work on the internet, and soon orders were rolling in for pieces the public wanted him to create.
But the most amazing part for this late-in-life artist is that he had done nothing artistic until he had the heart issues.
“I took art a little bit in high school, one semester of art,” said Hendrickson. “I took wood shop in school, never doing anything with it, my wood skills basically come from my background with my concrete. We had to be able to use a tape measure and work with your hands."
Check out Allen Hendrickson's Wood Page here.