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Meet Your Texas Makers: Arbor Castle Birdhouses

Remarkable roosts from Edom
Written by Clayton Maxwell. Photographs by Will van Overbeek.

Joseph Hopps, Arbor Castle Birdhouses

"If you want to find out how to do something, you just have to start doing it,” says artist Joseph Hopps in his low East Texas drawl. “And if you are lucky, you will find someone along the way who knows more about it than you do.”

ArborTagWith this spirit of pluck and ambition, Hopps embarked on a flight of fancy in 1999, when he began transforming the hollowed trunks of local cedar trees into whimsical birdhouses. Working with an artist’s eye, he crafts imaginative, detailed avian castles complete with spires, turrets, and tiny little leaves for their ivy-covered walls. “You don’t have to stick to any kind of roadmap,” says Hopps. “The possibilities are limitless.”

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Hopps honed his skills along the way, figuring out the best ways to hollow out the fallen cedar trees, how to use a welding torch, and methods for fashioning roofs of copper, iron, and ceramic. “There was a lot of stuff I had to learn,” Hopps says. “I didn’t know anything about copper, but I knew that I needed a torch. So I purchased one, started experimenting, and finally got where I needed to go.”

With his birdhouses gaining many admirers—art patrons as well as birds—Hopps has enlisted the help of his son, Bobby. The results of their shared determination are works of art that many a chickadee can happily call home.

Call 903/852-7893 www.arborcastlebirdhouses.com. Showroom opens Tuesday through Saturday, or by appointment.

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