Rodney Eggers can turn scrap wood into art.
Eggers, 82, has spent the last two decades making wood art pieces. Through a process known as intarsia, Eggers had filled his Washington home with numerous pieces.
Eggers said intarsia is similar to a stained-glass window, just with pieces of wood. He uses dozens of tiny pieces of shaped wood pieced together to make a bigger picture.
He got his start following the lead of his brother, Frank.
“He made some nice things and I got interested,” Eggers said. “He’s the one that got me going.”
His favorite subject is birds. Unlike animal hair, the feathers of a bird work perfectly with the intarsia process. Each colored feathered on a bird’s wing could be a different piece of wood.
“Birds suit me best,” he said. “Something with hair won’t work. And birds, well, there’s all kinds of birds.”
Eggers said he gets ideas for pieces by looking at pictures. He then takes the picture, blows it up, and creates a pattern.
“I get ideas and then I change them to what I want to do,” Eggers said.
Once the pattern is done, he goes to work in his basement shop. He cuts the wood into the shapes he needs and then glues the wood to a frame.
Eggers isn’t picky about his wood either. He said he takes mostly scrap wood and uses whatever he can to make a project work.
“I will take scraps and junk wood and make something out of it,” he said. “I just collect scrap wood and use that.”
A normal project can take about 40 to 50 hours. Eggers said he typically completes one a year.
He has occasionally entered his art into contests. He received an honorable mention award at a contest in Dayton, Ohio.
“I got two pieces that got honorable mention without even trying to win,” he said.
Making the art isn’t even close to a full-time job. He said he has sold a few pieces and given a few others as gifts, but mostly just does it because he likes to create things.
“I’ve maybe sold about 10 of them,” he said. “If someone wants one I give it to them. ... I had no idea of going into it to make money on it. You’ve got 300 pieces and, if it just took you a minute per piece — I could see right away profitability wasn’t going to happen.”
One reason Eggers doesn’t do more pieces is because each one takes up so much time — time he’d rather spend golfing.
The avid golfer normally hits the course two times a week. He’s golfed on 87 different courses.
While he’s proud of the recognition his woodwork has gotten, he’s even prouder of his accomplishments on the golf course.
Eggers has managed three hole-in-ones during his more than 60 years of golfing.
“You’re in an elite category when you get that many,” he said.
The first came in 1978.
“That one I didn’t know I made it,” Eggers said. “It was a 170-yard hole. The guy on the green walking off pointed at the hole, but I didn’t know I made it. At that distance, I knew I was close, but I didn’t think it went in. My two sons were playing with me so, for them, it was a big deal.”
His most recent happened in 2006 — 28 years after his first ace.
The second hole-in-one helped fulfill another life goal. He was playing at a charity tournament in 1995. One hole had a prize of two plane tickets to anywhere in the United States if a golfer made a hole-in-one.
Eggers got an ace and he and his wife of 52 years, Janet, traveled the East Coast of the United States. Eggers said the two hit eight states, helping him reach his goal of traveling to all 50 states.
Eggers has three children, Tim, Jim and Sue, and six grandchildren. He previously lived in New Haven before moving to Washington.
He is an Air Force vet, serving from 1952-56. He is active in the Korean War Veterans Association in Washington and has been a member of the American Legion for 57 years.