Dean Welsh shows off some of his cardboard artwork. The part-time employee at Three Fountains has designed several pieces for the center and teaches classes to residents. Jim Craven - Jim Craven

Bronze, cardboard. It's still all art, right?

Residents at Waterford at Three Fountains are not intimidated by the tyrannosaurus rex in the activities center. The dinosaur stands about 2 feet tall and 3 feet long and is made with cardboard and Elmer's glue.

"There's nothing you can't make out of cardboard," says Dean Welsh, 68, an employee and volunteer at Three Fountains, a Medford retirement home.

Welsh created four pieces of art for Three Fountains. He painted a mural of the valley in the activities room. On the top of the bookshelves in the library, he built a cardboard village of a dozen houses, including a bed and breakfast and a movie theater. He also fashioned a gladiator's head out of cardboard.

"You could not believe what this man can do with cardboard and paper," says April Franklin, Three Fountains' life enrichment director. "He's the reason we started doing Art Circle on Tuesdays."

Welsh started volunteering at the retirement home nine years ago when his mother was a resident. After his mother died, he became a part-time employee, teaching art classes and designing three-dimensional creations for the residents.

"This is something that kind of evolved," Welsh says. "I like fabrication really well."

Welsh says he gets the cardboard from the Dumpster, and he takes suggestions from the residents.

Although some residents are restricted by their physical condition, Welsh says he encourages them to participate in the craft activities. Last week they made valentines.

"It's something that's different from sitting in their room or the hall," Welsh says.

The residents can either hang their artwork on the display board or in their room.

Welsh is designing a cardboard steam engine replica with the men's group. He says he also hopes to make cardboard airplanes for some of the veterans in assisted living as well.

"It comes from his heart," Franklin says. "He always has someone in mind."

Welsh says he has always enjoyed making art, especially watercolors. He earned his bachelor's degree in fine art from Southern Oregon College in 1970.

"If I can find something that I can do that interests people then it's rewarding to me," he says.

Reach Southern Oregon University intern Teresa Beskow at or at 776-4464.

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