Stanford officer mixes love of community with Popsicle sticks
Being a police officer is one of the most stressful occupations out there.
To that end, members of the law enforcement community often rely on outlets to relieve the stress that comes with wearing a badge. For some, that means hitting the gym. For others, it may be doing yard work or going on a hike.
For Stanford Police Sgt. Jeremy Garrison, a 12-year veteran with the SPD and Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office, the avenue he pursues involves Popsicle sticks … a lot of Popsicle sticks.
Creating works of art using Popsicle sticks and other small pieces of wood, such as wooden dowels, Garrison has created a myriad of miniature structures, including a replica of Mount Hebron Baptist Church in Lincoln County.
“This is the church I was raised in,” Garrison said, gesturing to the quarter-inch scale structure sitting on a desk inside the Stanford Police Department. “I made it because of the memories I have of the church. My mother and father were married at the church and I was baptized in the church.”
His hobby is largely based on his love for history, primarily Kentucky history, he said.
Woodworking is something Garrison obviously enjoys, but more importantly, it is something that takes his mind off policing.
“It’s a great way to relieve stress,” Garrison said. “I would recommend to anybody to have some sort of hobby to get your mind off work and away from policing.”
Attention to Detail
Like in policing, Garrison said being detail-oriented also pays off in his hobby.
“I am a detailed person,” he said. “It doesn’t have to be perfect, because I’m not perfect. But I like it to be as close as possible. What tickles me the most about these things is whenever you see people look at [a replica] and they say, 'I know what that is.' It makes me feel good.”
Prior to starting a piece, Garrison puts his investigative skills to work, citing the church structure as an example.
“I went to the church and took measurements and pictures of all the sides and measured the windows and doors,” he said. “Some things, such as the pitch of the roof, I guessed at, but I got close.”
From there, he uses talents he has developed since high school.
“I took woodworking classes in high school, and I’ve always liked to build things, especially in miniature scale,” Garrison said.
For his church project, Garrison used 130 jumbo Popsicle sticks, 150 skinny sticks, 30 quarter-inch Poplar squares, wooden dowels and nine bottles of Gorilla Glue. There are 1,828 hand-cut shingles made of sticks creating the church roof.
The door handles are made from bread ties, he added.
“It’s a poor man’s hobby,” Garrison joked. “I will have people ask me what I would like for Christmas or my birthday, and I’ll say, ‘Get me some glue, Popsicle sticks and quarter-inch sticks. A lot of times, I’ll get a Lowe’s card, and I will pick up some wooden dowels and such.”
The church took Garrison nearly 74 hours – spread out over a two-month period – to finish.
“I tried to get as much detail as possible,” he said.
Looking through the windows of the replica, one can make out the pulpit, pews and interior doors.
Hindsight being 20-20, Garrison said he wishes he would have built the church with a removable roof so people can truly see the detail inside.
Garrison freely admits that he can be his own worst critic, adding that on any given project, he can quickly spot flaws and imperfections.
However, the hobby is relaxing and Garrison does not allow it to consume him.
“It’s a hobby that I enjoy, but after a few hours of working on it, I have to step away from it a little bit,” he said. “I don’t want it to be something that I have to do.”
While the church was a two-month long project, Garrison builds smaller structures – cabins, covered bridges, and his current project, a civil-war era cannon – which doesn’t take near the amount of time, he said.
“Smaller pieces can take me 8 to 10 hours over the course of several days,” he said.
He has done a lot with his art, and even entertained some requests to build specific pieces. One thing Garrison hasn’t tried is a police-themed piece. But that doesn’t mean he isn’t thinking about it.
“I have thought about making our badges,” he said. “We have sort of a U.S. Marshal-looking badge. I haven’t tackled it yet, but it’s on my radar.”
Presently, Garrison finds himself contemplating his largest project to date – a replica of Fort Logan, which is located in Lincoln County.
“The architect was nice enough to give me a copy of the plans, and when I’m done with it, it will probably be as big as this table (gesturing to the desk in the police chief’s office),” Garrison said. “It’s got three blockhouses, seven single cabins and a couple double cabins. It will be on a quarter-inch scale. It will probably take me a year to a year and a half to finish.”
It doesn’t matter if the project is large or small, just as long as Garrison enjoys it, he will continue collecting Popsicle sticks and creating his art.
“The good Lord has given me the ability and knowledge to do something like this, and I enjoy it, and it just brings back good memories for me,” he said.