Bill Carley has been working with wood his entire life. At age 10, he started taking on his own responsibilities at the family farm. Like many farmers, he didn’t just work with crops and animals. His family constructed many of the buildings, fences and items they needed by hand. Now, at age 75, Bill uses his construction skills in a different way. No longer as active in heavy construction work, he has taken up woodturning, where he transforms local wood into beautiful and functional art.
Originally from Illinois, Bill moved to Pineville in 1984. At that time, “The economy went south in Illinois.” Bill said. Construction work was available in North Carolina, and Bill knew he would be able to make a living here.
Bill built houses from the ground up. He was a jack of all trades in the construction world, not only able to work with wood, but also able to do drywall, brick, and finishing work. Some of Bill’s local commercial construction can be found at JAARS, where he built homes for the missionaries.
Since that original move to Pineville, Bill and his wife have moved quite a few more times within the area. This time, to build his own houses. Bill has constructed five of his homes, ultimately to sell them and move onto another home project. Bill said, “I’m 75 years old, and I don’t need to be doing much of that work anymore.” But he admitted he’s currently building his sixth house right now.
Not only has Bill been doing local commercial construction, but he has also participated in a variety of missions trips as well. Some of the trips have been through JAARS. Others, such as church-building trips to Mexico, have been through his local church. “I think I’ve got sawdust in my blood,” Bill said.
In 2006, Bill started woodturning. One day his neighbor, who had a lathe, invited him to come over and try his hand at this new skill. Bill said, “I turned a water bowl, and I was hooked.” Bill’s construction work gave him a head-start in the learning process. Bill explained that usually beginning woodturners start out with easier items, such as spoons or honey dippers. Bowls are a more advanced design.
To learn more about this new-found craft, Bill joined the Waxhaw Woodturners. According to their website, Waxhaw Woodturners promotes the art of woodturning, demonstrations, and videos to help artists hone their skills. Through their monthly presentations, Bill learned how to do segmented woodturning, which opened up a whole new world of artistic expression.
Bill found segmented woodturning enjoyable. He explained that he liked “trying to design something that looked nice and bring the beauty of the wood out.” Bill uses local woods, such as cherry and maple. When selling his pieces he is often able to tell customers where the wood came from, what type of finish it has on it, and how to properly take care of the item to prevent drying, cracking, and warping.
Bill’s pieces are functional, but they are also beautiful works of art. He makes tables, bowls, small furniture, candle holders, Christmas ornaments and quilt racks. He also does cabinet work. Bill enjoys taking custom orders and displays many of his pieces at Created In The Carolinas Artisan Cooperative gift shop as well as the Eight Legs Gallery in Waxhaw.
While Bill appreciates people buying his art, he doesn’t focus on the money aspect. Regarding the pieces he keeps in the gift shop, he said, “I like to see people come along and see it sitting there. It catches their eye, and they pick it up and get enjoyment out of it.” For more information, Bill can be reached at 704-776-1917, or email@example.com.