Shedding light in Yampa

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For 20 years, lamps were Wendy Moreau's life.

Moreau, a 10-year Yampa resident, used to gather wood from aspen trees, carve the lamps, paint them and install the necessary hardware.

But when Moreau developed arthritis, she had to put her business -- Moreau Woods -- to rest.

Now, with a little help from some new technology, Moreau is back in business.

Instead of hand-carving her lamps, Moreau uses a laser to engrave her hand-sketched patters into the wood. She still collects her own wood with the help of her husband, Roger, and she still hand-paints each lamp.

"I first started making lamps because of a dream I had. I literally dreamed about putting images of birds on a pile of aspen (wood) we had in a shed. That's actually how it happened," Wendy Moreau said.

Moreau continued to dream about her lamps and has made about 16 sketches for them, including images of Routt County landscapes and wildlife such as bears, horses and wildflowers.

Moreau said most of her inspiration comes from living in Yampa and being outside.

"I love the earth. It's a source of endless inspiration," she said.

Moreau said she can make several lamps a day if she really puts her mind to it. Her business is conveniently located just a few feet from her home.

The Moreaus have a studio where they spend most of their days. One part of the studio is for working with the wood and the other part is for designing and putting the lamps together.

With the laser, Moreau said she is committed to spending the rest of her life creating lamps and other engraved wood items such as tables. "This is it. With (the laser), you really can do almost anything," she said.

Moreau said she is glad to be working with wood and making lamps again because she grew up in an artistic family. She remembers being around her grandparents and her mother while they painted and worked with wood.

"I come from a long line of artists who worked with aspen. I thought, 'Well, we're carrying on a family tradition,'" she said.

She also will make lamps tailored to the requests of customers. She recently made a lamp for a man who wanted buffaloes on it.

Moreau's smaller lamps sell for about $80, and the larger lamps can go for as much as $200.

-- To reach Alexis DeLaCruz, call 871-4234 or e-mail adelacruz@steamboatpilot.com

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