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Creative Corner: Local veteran turns to woodworking

Longmont resident Leanne Davis has found a passion in the challenge of woodworking

Leanne Davis likes to take on new, challenging, personal goals, from kayaking a long stretch with very little experience to creating beautiful pieces for her home. Davis is a disabled veteran, suffering from PTSD and anxiety. Woodworking is one outlet that helps her get through the tougher days.

"I have this personality that I wonder if I can do something and then figure out how to do it," she said.

That was true when, in 2015, she became the third woman and the youngest woman on record to solo kayak the Mississippi from source to sea at the time. She'd never kayaked before but thought her experience canoeing and stand-up paddleboarding would get her through. She struggled at first, but by the end, she'd gotten strong and even paddled 100 miles in one day. 

These days, Davis takes on the challenge of taking care of her 18-month-old son, Russell. She also follows her passion for woodworking. She, her wife, Pam, and their son, live in a house in Longmont that shows her handiwork. 

Before she was a stay-at-home mom to Russell, she was a videographer in the Air Force and had also worked in graphic design. Most of the work she's done has been in the digital space, so she's thrilled to work in the physical space. 

"I was looking for a hobby that was creative, and particularly something in the physical space." Davis said, "I used to joke that I majored in power tools in college because all I did was build theater sets. And so I thought woodworking would be fun."

Leanne and Pam fell in love with Longmont when Pam was interviewing for her job with the City of Boulder. 

Leanne has lived in over 30 homes and traveled all over the world while she was in the Air Force. She said, "​​I liked the approachability of Longmont. I like that I saw a lot of small businesses. I thought the homes were really cute. I like that most places were really nicely taken care of. I liked some of the older neighborhoods in particular. It just felt really approachable."

When they came here to live Pam hadn't yet gotten her job and they hadn't closed on their house, but Leanne said it all came together at once. Pam started her job the same day they closed on their house. They are both grateful that they got a house with all white walls, a blank canvas so to speak, so that they could really make their house their own. The basement already had a workbench and shelving, so it was perfect for Leanne's woodworking workshop.

Additionally, Davis wanted to create art for herself rather than simply making other people's visions come to life. When she proposed to Pam, she made a wooden ring box and then made one for herself later. Her creations were also added to their wedding's decor. The couple needed more seating in their living room, so Leanne made wooden swings. Some other items Leanne has made are coasters and a pizza peel, using mixed woods. 

"​​I tore out all the shelving and built out another whole workbench and a place for wood and I did this mural on the back wall," Davis said, "And I just love it. It's a great space, and having a house that I've done a lot of work to has been a really good excuse to buy a lot of power tools."

She is grateful for Pam's support and wouldn't feel as comfortable pursuing woodworking without it. 

"One of the things that I'm just so grateful for is having a wife and partner like Pam, who understands it. She loves what I do, she thinks is neat and great. But, most importantly, she really supports it and understands how much it fuels me and how important having a creative outlet is to me as a whole," Davis said, "She knows how much better I am to our whole family and that I'm just a happier, healthier person."