August 29, 2002 - "Nutty Hobby"

Here's the story of a guy who is really nuts about his hobby. His hobby is nuts! And he has turned it into a cottage industry, making unique Louisiana products.

Mark Gonsoulin will admit it. He's a nut. He's certainly nuts about his hobby, which is making things out of nuts. Mark makes baskets, candle holders, vases and other stuff out of pecans -- not pecan wood, not even carved pecan shells, an art form in itself -- no, Mark uses the whole nut, uncracked, unopened, complete.

He says he got started with his hobby in 1991. "One day I started fooling around with it. I don't remember what the first piece I made with it was, but over the years it just developed a little further."

Mark started out giving his creations to friends and family, but it didn't take him long to figure out that he had come up with something original. That's when he really got after it, started researching, perfecting his technique. Now his friends and family really treasure those pecan originals he gave them.

But that certainly doesn't discourage the obvious jokes about their nutty pal who went a little squirrelly. Mark laughs, remembering some of the jibes. "Yes, that would be a good way to put it. A lot of things have been said, but I enjoy doing it. It offers peace of mind."

Now they're sought-after pieces, functional as well as collectible. Some nutty ideas are worth listening to. Mark's work can be seen in a few retail stores in and around New Iberia, or you can check out his web site