BOW — If you’ve driven down Worline Road and slammed on your brakes because you swear you just passed a camel made of driftwood wearing a face mask, then you’ve seen Joe Treat’s recent handiwork.
The camel, which is practicing social distancing in a yard with an elephant and a zombie, got the mask because it’s closest to the road.
“It’s kind of a crazy yard filled with crazy art,” said the 67-year-old Treat, a semiretired insurance agent. “I just discovered I had this talent about four years ago. I did this triceratops out in my yard and it drew a lot of attention.”
So much attention that Treat soon had people knocking on his door to ask about his creations. He is currently working on a dachshund, owl and a beaver.
Treat has produced about 51 pieces, 15 of which are prominently displayed in his front yard while others have been sold.
“I have pieces in the sculpture garden and the city of Anacortes even bought my giraffe,” he said.
His biggest work is a full-sized elephant, which was recently joined by a tyrannosaurus rex.
Treat also just finished his ninth sculpture of a heron. He uses a torch to bring out the grain in the driftwood, replicating the bird’s feathers.
Treat often begins a sculpture, then steps back for a couple of days in order to get his bearings before continuing.
“Sometimes I have to go to the beach to get some parts,” he said. “And I’ve got a big boneyard out back I can draw from.”
There is a method to his madness when it comes to piecing together his sculptures.
“Sometimes, I go out looking for arms and legs,” he said. “And sometimes, I will see a piece that just stands out.”
That was the case with the zombie. Treat found a piece of driftwood that resembled a brain, and it wasn’t long before the zombie — brain and all — was emerging from his lawn.
He often receives calls from folks with beachfront properties who offer him driftwood. He also goes high-tech, using Google Earth to zoom in on specific lengths of beach in search of material.
The process all starts with a frame — metal skeleton, complete with vertebrae — to which Treat attaches the driftwood with deck screws, or if it’s a real big project, threaded bolts.
“I’m having the time of my life right now,” Treat said. “I don’t want it to become a job. I don’t want to lose my joy.”