Craig resident Dave Walters stood in his workshop Wednesday.
“This here is 70 hours of my week,” Walters said of his shop. “I usually work 19-hour shifts every day.”
Walters is a single father of three school-aged children. He works construction on the side, but the bulk of his working hours are devoted to his true passion, Chameo Engravings and Cutouts, which he runs out of his home on Sixth Street in Craig.
Walters, 40, creates more than 20 different wood products, including benches, mirror frames, coasters and more.
“It’s not good for my health,” Walters said of his work schedule. “I just had a (transient ischemic attack), which is a mini-stroke on the first of the year. It almost took me out of commission.”
In the weeks before the attack, Walters had been working exceptionally hard.
In November 2010, he created his signature product, which he named after his business. The Chameo — pronounced cameo — is a lap tray, which Walters contends has more than 14 uses.
In January, Walters submitted a patent application for the Chameo. The U.S. Patent Office provided Walters with a patent pending number: 61448195.
The Chameo appears to be a simple lap tray. It is a flat, plywood surface with two hinged legs that fold out from below. Two clevis pins secure the legs into place when unfolded.
Each Chameo is engraved with a freehand design by Walters. Most designs feature a Western scene, such as a bucking bronco, a cowboy in silhouette, or an eagle in flight, but Walters also does custom work.
The name Chameo is a combination of the words chameleon and cameo, Walters said
Chameleon suits the device because the Chameo’s hinges allow the device to change, Walters said. Cameo is an engraving technique.
The name is also indicative of Walters’ products, he said.
“Everything I build here I try to make it so it has more than one purpose,” Walters said.
For instance, the Chameo has so many purposes, a consumer would have to purchase $1,000 worth of single-purpose products to get the same number of uses, Walters contends.
“They can be used as stools,” Walters said. “In my marketing packet, I have pictures of me standing on them, working on them. My kids use them all the time to get into cabinets or change light bulbs.
“People use them on buffet tables. They put a slow cooker up top and serving bowls beneath.
“I had a lady call me a week ago to tell me that her grandson unfolds one of the legs, sits it in front of the TV and colors on it. And, when he’s done, she leaves it there, lays her back against it and does tummy crunches.
“The list goes on and on.”
Walters first took his product to market during a craft sale on Black Friday last year. He said sales of the Chameo were slow, but shoppers encouraged him to patent the device.
“Everybody told me, ‘You need to get it patented,’” Walters recalled. “I kind of blew the idea off.”
A few weeks later, however, Walters submitted an application.
It’s not clear whether the idea will be accepted by the U.S. Patent Office, but Walters is optimistic.
Now that he has the patent pending number, Walters has sent the Chameo to the marketing departments at pro wrestling organization WWE and cable network CMT.
Walters said he’s received encouraging signs from both companies, particularly CMT.
“They’re just waiting for a marketing analyst to go over it,” Walters said of CMT.
In the meantime, Walters said he’ll keep cranking out products, undaunted by his recent medical issue.
“It slowed me down for a month, but I’m back to myself again,” he said.
Ben McCanna can be reached at 875-1793 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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