Ronald Cannon takes the meaning of “handyman” to another level.
The artsy craftsman repairs, builds and even uses nature’s gifts to create unique hand-crafted sculptures and wood has become his best friend.
Though he’s been in construction since the age of 14, he said his daughter most recently inspired his latest hobby of wood sculpting, after seeing her wood carving for a class at she had taken Columbus State University. He’s been carving since.
“My carvings each have a purpose,” said Cannon. “Some of my pieces are made because of the joy I get from the characters I create, while other pieces venture into more personal and spiritual aspects of my life.”
Some of his work is related to the loss of people in his life. He has carved several “memory” totem poles for people who have died, and spoke about a more personal experience with his carving.
“A son of a friend had requested that I build him a casket the week before he got killed,” he said. “It was really a spiritual, hair-standing on your skin, tingling event. The act of carving helps me channel those emotions into a task that honors each individual while helping me work through grief and loss.”
One of his pieces stemmed from the 2011 tsunami that hit Japan and killed over 15,000 people. The sculpture was modeled from a photo shown on the news of an Asian woman praying during the midst of the tsunami’s events.
“I was watching what was happening on the news and I felt bad, and I wanted to do something,” he said.
The piece has extra detailing and is engraved in Japanese with “Lord, hands on Fukushima.”
In addition to sculpting, Cannon has built furniture and even built his own home. He gets all of his wood from cleared land and storm damage, and it also helps that he lives on 50 acres surrounded by woods and nature.
With trees from his own backyard, he built his daughter a backyard cabin using 110 logs in about five months. His wife and daughter agree that besides the house in which they live, the cabin is the most impressive piece.
Daughter Christine Cannon uses the cabin as her art studio, and said has benefited all her life from having a creative and artistic father.
“I’ve always seen him making things my entire life; Everything was built up throughout my childhood,” said Christine Cannon. “Everything from school projects, to puzzles to all sorts of little things when I was a kid, he built them. I always had the coolest projects.”
Wife Lisa Cannon said her husband has built most the furniture in their home, though she joked about the downside of having a craftsman for a husband.
“You’re not going to go out and buy anything real quick because he’s going to say “Oh, I can build that!” she said. “It’s a good con to have though because it saves us money.”
Another downside, Ronald Cannon said, is the risk of injuries. While building the backyard cabin last year, he broke a leg and now has a rod in his leg from the incident, which he said slowed down his activity.
Ronald had owned Ronald Cannon Construction since for about 35 years since 1975, but now works with contractors and does mechanic work, builds cabinets and furniture pieces on an on-call basis. He has carved signs for several local businesses and recently has sold one of his pieces to a buyer in Florida. He plans to soon launch a website to showcase his carvings to sell.
Christine Cannon often praises the skills and crafts of her father when she finds herself out and about.
“With camera phones now, it’s great because we’re like “Hey this is cool dad. Will you make me a cooler one?” said Christine Cannon. “We’ll see things when we’re out and say ‘That’s great, but dad can do better.’”