Beautiful gifts to brighten a difficult time

Woodworkers and artisans handcraft wig stands for cancer patients

[May 2019 | San Juan Silver Stage | By Carol McDermott]
Images, Carol McDermott and Kathryn R. Burke.

Dave Kaufman turning wood for the wig stands.

Members of the Montrose Area Woodturners (MAW), the Woodworkers Guild of Western Colorado, the Montrose Visual Arts Guild (MVAG), Montrose Center for the Arts (MCA), and art students at Centennial Middle School and Montrose High have joined talents to create wig stands for cancer patients who lost their hair due to treatments.

Dave Kaufmann, MAW Special Project Director, heard about the wig stands from the Central Illinois Woodturners organization. His daughter was diagnosed with breast cancer in October, 2018. By November 1, he had made three wig stands. Bosom Buddies, an organization which supports breast cancer patients, heard about the project and, according to Kaufmann, “they were excited about it.” So were the woodworkers. Twelve people are currently turning wig stands on their shop lathes.

“As of March, 2019, we made 74 wig stands,” Kaufmann said.

There are three parts to the stands – base, spindle, and cap. The turners shape each piece. Kaufmann glues the pieces. The artists paint them. Kaufmann sprays them with polyurethane to seal the paint. The artists create their own visions of hope. Some are flowers, some bold-color swirls, and others messages of love and compassion.

Sandoval painting a wig stand.

The wood is donated by Custom Wood Products in Montrose and Intermountain Lumber in Grand Junction. “We have wood enough to make 200 wig stands,” said Kaufmann.

“We have requests from others to help with the painting. Linda McMenamy’s advanced art students at Centennial Middle School and Joe Leonard’s Art II and Art III classes at Montrose High are participating.”

Another woodworker, Debra Houts, has also joined in the painting. “I am involved to support the woodturning club community project,” she said. “I like to think that the person who receives the wig stand overcomes cancer and will pass the stand to another. My own mother survived breast cancer, so I am especially grateful to hope/pray/think that the recipient might also be so blessed.”

Wig stands.

Bosom Buddies in Montrose received 18 wig stands. Wig stands were also given to Grand Valley Oncology and St. Mary’s Hospital in Grand Junction. Montrose Memorial Hospital has three in a glass case. “Due to the privacy act, we can’t give the stands to patients, so we give them to staff. When you take the stands to staff, tears come to their eyes,” said Kaufmann.

“The goal is to be able to send this program to every woodworkers group in the country. Everyone in Western Colorado knows someone who has or had cancer,” he said.

“We can always take monetary donations, for things like the paint. We are looking for people who like to paint and woodturners who like to turn.”

The woodworker organizations have built toys for CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates); bird houses for the Audubon Society, which are sold at the county fair; Toys for Tots; and the Wounded Warrior eagle-head canes for veterans.

Photo Credits:
Top: Carol McDermott. Middle: Linda McMenamy, art teacher. Bottom: Kathryn R. Burke.