Masters at Work Creating Beads of Courage Boxes

Broken Bow - A heartwarming combination of wood artistry and a project benefitting children with serious illnesses is coming together during a special competition and exhibit at the Oklahoma Forest Heritage Center in Beavers Bend State Park near Broken Bow. The Masters at Work: Woodturning Competition is partnering with the Beads of Courage program as artists from eight states including Oklahoma compete in four different categories.

What makes this year unique is the partnership with Beads of Courage, a program that began in 2004 to help children battling life-threatening illnesses. The program started in Arizona when Jean Baruch was working on her PhD in nursing and spent a summer helping with Paul Newman’s Hole in the Wall Gang Camp. She enlisted the help of the Arizona Society of Glass Beadmakers to create handmade beads to be given to patients as they move through different parts of their medical journey. Each bead represents a different treatment milestone.

A child may receive hundreds of beads and that is how the idea of beautiful boxes started. Woodturning clubs across the region got involved and answered the call to create boxes for children to store their beads. The program has made it all the way to southeast Oklahoma; serving as inspiration for this five week exhibit.
“This year’s exhibit is really special to all of us,” said Doug Zook, FHC Program Director. “The boxes will be donated to the Beads of Courage program and a child participating in the program will be one of the judges for the competition.”

This special event kicked off Sunday, Sept. 15 with a reception to announce the competition winners. The exhibit remains open and free to the public until October 20. Over 100 boxes displayed in the exhibit will be sent to Children’s Hospital at OU Medical Center in Oklahoma City and Saint Francis Children’s Hospital in Tulsa to be distributed to children.

“The Forest Heritage Center has been working diligently to increase awareness of woodturning as an art form. By implementing a competitive twist while working with the Bead of Courage Program, we hope to increase public interest while providing a unique and creative challenge for our artists,” said Zook.

This exhibit promises to be an enjoyable event that will showcase wood art. Gallery hours are Wednesday – Saturday, 10a.m. – 4p.m. and Sunday 1p.m. – 4:p.m. For more information contact the Forest Heritage Center at 580-494-6497, email or visit

This exhibit is made possible in part by Oklahoma Forestry Services, Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department, Oklahoma Arts Council, Regional Arts Council, Wood World of Texas and the Forest Heritage Center Advisory Board and staff. The Oklahoma Forest Heritage Center is part of Oklahoma Forestry Services, a division of the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry and is located just north of Broken Bow.