By ERIN MAYES
As a dyslexic student at Hazel Fischer Elementary School in Arnold, Andy Enzi never got to participate in arts and crafts.
He had a difficult time learning to read, so he was placed in special classes.
No one ever put a crayon or a paintbrush or a lump of clay in his hands.
But they did give him a chain saw.
Starting his junior year at Sonora High School, Enzi picked up the saw and started chopping down trees for a living.
He worked as a logger in the foothills for 15 years. Then, one fateful Super Bowl Sunday as the team he rooted for was losing miserably he stepped into the garage, fired up his saw and made a coffee table for his brother.
Not much later, he used his saw to carve a statue of a Native American for his father.
His brother and his father still own their Enzi originals, and they won't let him touch them up, as much as he begs. The 40-year-old has honed his skills in the nine years since he took up the carving saw, and seeing imperfections in his past work is torture.
What started as a hobby soon became a profession that is more lucrative than logging, much to Enzi's surprise.
"It's going unexpectedly well," he said. "All I had was pure desire. I wanted to do it more than anything. I wanted to create.
"I carved something at a fair one day, and a lady came by and said, Son, that's your way of giving birth.' And I said, I guess it is my way of giving birth.' "
Also surprising, perhaps, is that Enzi's dyslexia has played a vital role in his occupation.
"Don't ever give me directions left or right. It's all backwards to me," he said, then revealing a little-known secret. "A lot of my faces I'll carve upside down."
Enzi said it's easier for him to visualize a face upside down and create it that way. Of course, this means getting up on a ladder so he can lean down over the piece to see it from an up-ended viewpoint.
During the summer, Enzi works at a lot of fairs, but he never carves upside-down in front of people because it's so involved.
"A lot of times, at a fairground, I'll get in there when nobody's there, like 6 a.m. I'll do the eyes and stuff that's real critical," he said. Having those reference points makes it easier later in the day to carve right-side-up.