Woodland winds whisper.
Our feathered friends soar
Flit about and bustle
Mirth they bring
Mirth they sing
These tiny masters of wind and wing.
A poem by Joseph Hopps
In 1992, my cousin kindly delivered a stack of wood to burn in my shop woodstove. I was living in Norman, Oklahoma. I was building birdhouses in my off time as an artistic expression. I was exploring ideas of how I could be doing it full time as a living. In that pile of firewood lay the most interesting hollow log I had ever seen, gnarled with character. As if the planets lined up, a new world of possibilities began to unfold. Just one hollow log, dripping with character brought thoughts of whimsy and days of yore, woodland fairy castles, bird castles, with spires, steps, stairs, vines and leaves, pixie roofs, witches hats, all from natural elements.
It was to be a fork in the road for my creative process of building my birdhouses. Sometime later, I entered that hollow log creation in a birdhouse competition at The Firehouse Art Gallery in Norman, Oklahoma and consequently I was awarded first place, a $450. purchase price.
Around 1993, I moved to east Texas and began working as a carpenter. I continued to pursue my idea of using hollowed trees to build birdhouses. I engaged the help of my brother, who is a mechanical genius, and we set about designing the tools necessary to hollow out logs.
East Texas has an abundance of Red Heart Cedar which is aromatic and durable and became my wood of choice for what has become Arbor Castle Birdhouses.
In early 1999, I began selling my castle birdhouses in Canton, Texas at First Monday Trade Days and subsequently began to participate in juried art shows in the Texas area, By the end of 1999, I opened up a shop in the art community of Edom, Texas and continued building and selling my whimsical creations. In time, they evolved and became more elaborate and detailed using painted metal roofs, turrets and bells, annealed copper roofs, hand set stones, leaves, vines, sconces, and finials. The cedar wood exteriors are coated with clear Olympic deck sealers which gives them their natural golden finish.
The houses have been built in Edom, Texas, displayed and sold in our Gallery shop ever since. Also you can buy online and at various juried art shows across the country.
Mr. Hopps and Arbor Castle Birdhouses were featured in the November 2014 “Made in Texas” themed issue of Texas Highways in an article called “Remarkable Roots from Edom.” Hopps’ extraordinary birdhouses were also featured in IN Magazine’s Sept.-Oct. 2013 issue, in an article titled “These Birdhouses Really Are Castles.” Many newspaper and magazine articles have been written about Mr. Hopps and his bird and fairy castles. He has been featured on Texas Country Reporter, and appears in the book Birdhouses of the World by Anne Schmause.
“Joseph Hopps’s customers see his birdhouses as whimsical woodland fairy castles for gnomes, hobbits, pixies, tree nymph, fairies and little people. Mr. Hopps is quick to point out that birds love them too!”
Be sure to find your own original Arbor Castle Birdhouse from Edom Texas, signed and dated by the artist, Joseph Hopps! And even though Joe stays pretty busy building his whimsical fairy castles and birdhouses, he still finds time to write songs and play music.