Love of hockey inspired Sask. man to turn old sticks into furniture, art

Dale Lovatt's workspace is teeming with hockey. Not only is there every type of stick imaginable, there's also coffee tables, artwork, picture frames, chests and more, all made out of those sticks. 

The Sask. man played hockey for decades.

"We were always at the rink," Lovatt said.

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He started collected old sticks: his, his son's and leftovers from the local rink in Wilcox, Sask. — where he drove a Zamboni — and a local school. Soon he had buckets full, with no plan for what to do with them. 

"I was always looking for something to make with them."

Heidi Atter/CBC
Heidi Atter/CBC

After some though, Lovatt took the sticks to his workshop and started cutting them up. He began by making coffee tables and donated them to local fundraisers. When Lovatt got a new job where he works only in the summer months, he started doing more elaborate projects during the winter.

Lovatt can turn the sticks into coffee tables, trunks, book cases, night stands, shelves, chalkboards, cork boards framed with hockey sticks, artwork, barbecue tool sets, snow brushes and picture frames.

"As long as I have the sticks available, I'll make stuff," he said. "When they dry up and I have to start searching for sticks, then that's when it's gonna get to be more of a problem."

Heidi Atter/CBC
Heidi Atter/CBC

The small workshop is attached to his home. It gets cold in the winter, but one side area is insulated with an old TV, smaller buckets of sticks and a space heater. Lovatt spends most of his time in that area cutting, drilling, and gluing together the sticks to make his creations.

Hockey runs deep for Lovatt.

"Hockey's a community thing that keeps everybody motivated to keep the community running," he said. 

Heidi Atter/CBC
Heidi Atter/CBC

Travelling for the sport has given Lovatt the chance to see a fair bit of Saskatchewan. 

"I wasn't born and raised in Saskatchewan but I know a lot more back roads in Saskatchewan than people that have lived here all their lives," he said.

Now his craft has him travelling the province again to sell his wares.

Heidi Atter/CBC
Heidi Atter/CBC

His work is popular enough that he needs to constantly be on the lookout for more sticks, he said. 

"I'll jump in the dumpsters," he said with a laugh. "If I'm driving down the street and Regina and somebody has got two [sticks] stuffed in their garbage in the morning I'll stop and I'll pull them out."

He is able to get a couple hundred a year, he said.

"If I have to make something out of the big stuff like a table or a trunk or a nightstand or something like that that's where the sticks disappear in a big hurry," he said.

Heidi Atter/CBC
Heidi Atter/CBC

Lovatt hopes to open a small store front at his home in Wilcox someday. He wants to keep moving inventory so he has a reason to keep making it.

"I would like to end up at the end of the craft sale season with nothing left and then start building it again and creating new items and and just keep having fun doing it."

Heidi Atter/CBC
Heidi Atter/CBC

Anyone willing to donate sticks can reach Dale Lovatt at dlovatt@sasktel.net.

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