February 18, 2002 - Cajun Craftsman

Handmade furniture to last a lifetime -- that's the stock-in-trade of one Cajun craftsman in the small community of Bueche in West Baton Rouge Parish.

"One thing about working with willow," says Huey Dupont, "You've got to work your whole body. You've got to hold it with your mouth, your hand and your head to get it going."

Under an oak tree in his backyard in West Baton Rouge Parish, Huey Dupont works the willow -- works it into handcrafted fine furniture. Huey roams the Mississippi riverbank from White Castle to St. Francisville to look for his raw material.

"I know one thing," he says. "I can go out there and look at a patch of willow, and I can tell you what I can do with it -- how many chairs or tables or whatever. I don't waste my willow. I've got to cut that willow, then I've got to carry it."

But the trip from the riverbank to Huey's backyard shop and showroom is only the beginning. Why, people eat off Huey's furniture in a café in Paris, France.

And you heard Huey say he doesn't waste the willow, so what happens to the scraps? They go into the kitchen where his wife makes decorative boxes.

Huey's furniture is a popular attraction at the New Orleans Jazz Fest or the Festival Acadienne in Lafayette. If you can't wait for either of those events, you can call Huey at (225) 627-6180.