Youngsters on spring break had a chance to stand in the shoes of artist Blake Hendrickson during a creative workshop at the Belfast Free Library April 23.

Hendrickson, whose distinctive wood panels, densely packed with patterns formed in relief from glued wood scraps, brought all the raw materials of his trade to the library to let several dozen children give it a try.

Tubs of turning mill rejects, woodshop scraps, string, pine cones, acorns and any number of other wood or wood-like materials covered two long tables, in an arrangement that Hendrickson called the “wood block buffet.”

The small panels — roughly 8 inches square — produced by the children showed the range of possibilities that could come out of a simple premise. Some clad their panels in low relief. Others stacked materials up until the formations were as tall as the panels were wide. In other pieces, the materials spilled off the edges of the panel. The finished products suggested cities, surrealist landscapes, decorative plaques, and in most cases, sculpture for its own sake.

Hendrickson, a former draftsman for Bath Iron Works, has been making his obsessive assemblages for 15 years. Five years ago he emerged from creative isolation and began hosting workshops like the one held at the library.

“I produced warships for 25 years. It’s nice to give something back,” he said. “I’ve never been uncivic, but it’s nice to do something civic.”

According to Hendrickson, more than 1,000 people attended his workshops last year. Though the basic premise is the same from one workshop to the next, he said sometimes the process of gluing small pieces to a panel can have secondary benefits, like teaching geometry to school children or providing diversion for elderly nursing-home residents.

Before turning the children loose on the array of materials, Hendrickson gave a brief presentation of his own work. During this time, he apprised his young apprentices of the two rules for the workshop: Have fun, and share ideas.

On the second point, Hendrickson encouraged all in attendance to borrow liberally from each other’s discoveries, promising that he would do the same, taking away new ideas from the workshop to use in his own work.

“The kids do stuff that would never cross my mind,” he said.