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Spirit of Acadiana: New Life for Cypress Trees

Revitalizing and Repurposing Near the Basin
Cypress wood
Posted at 9:06 AM, Jan 29, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-30 12:32:28-05

BREAUX BRIDGE, La. — "Mother Nature, painted the picture," begins Eric Couvillion. "I get the privilege to frame it. It’s that simple."

Revitalization and repurpose.

Certain Spirit of Acadiana segments just tell you from the get-go what the theme’s gonna be. A 2,000-year old cypress tree—and others like it— tells you about new life, and also tells you about Eric Couvillion, who’s helping to provide that new life.

The Breaux Bridge native had one career. "I was in the oilfield and pipeline business for 44 years." But the foundation of his next job was actually set in motion years ago. "I have been woodworking since I was 15."

And as he entered adulthood, he started making furniture—dining room tables, end tables, desks. "But they were all for the family, no commissions or contracts, no business," says Couvillion.

He owns property, about 2,000 acres, east of the Atchafalya Basin, and as he goes out for a hike or hunt, he notices 'sinker logs', fallen cypress trees poking out of the ground. But those cypress are particularly easy to reclaim, and, because of water levels, Couvillion only has access to them from about August to October.

"You’ve got to physically get a piece of equipment in there, dig ‘em, roll ‘em, chain ‘em, pull ‘em out, load ‘em, bring ‘em here, mill ‘em … it’s a process."

Once at his shop, that’s when the magic really starts to happen.

Couvillion takes these pieces of nature—hundreds and hundreds of years old—and gives them one last chance. "But these are dinosaurs that still have meat on the bones, and there’s no more; they’re extinct."

Couvillion is 67 years old, and the marriage between pieces of history and talent are gloriously intertwined. "Do you consider yourself an artist?" I ask. Couvillion pauses. "I consider myself a good craftsman and an artisan of sorts."

Word of mouth has been his best marketing tool, and his commissions go range from $3,000 to $20,000 dollars. A lot of his customers, he says, are former Louisiana residents, and he is blessed to keep them connected to the place they call ‘home’.

"And they want a piece of Louisiana," says Couvillion, "they want a piece of their heritage, so I get to do that."

***For more information, visit liveedgeworks.com

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