Turning Wood into Treasure: Meet Bill Wallace
It's a winding, verdant and scenic route to New Light Woodworks in Wake Forest, NC where Bill Wallace creates art, furniture, awards and more from trees and logs, some reclaimed after natural disasters. Upon entering his crowded workshop that looks as if it sprang up unceremoniously in the midst of majestic oaks, one quickly realizes the treasure trove inside almost surpasses the natural beauty outside. Almost.
Everywhere you turn in Wallace's shop, some piece of work already finished or in transition from its natural wood form catches the eye and fascinates the mind. His skill and craftsmanship are reflected in the unique chairs, tables, bowls, hand carved awards and pieces inlaid with colorful minerals. It's a process that can take several months if he starts when the wood still contains moisture, because it has to dry while he's working with it before it can be finished. If the wood is already dry, he may spend 15 hours transforming a log into an exquisite bowl.
Wallace started making custom furniture in 1974 and began woodturning in 1975. He enjoys sharing his passion and skill for woodworking. In addition to holding classes at his shop in Wake Forest, he teaches at NC State University and Alamance Community College. "Wood is an incredible material to work with; there's a technical aspect and you (must) respect the grain," says Wallace. He quickly acknowledges that it's not for everyone. "You must be willing to put in the time, accept the learning curve of mastering the technique, and have a good work ethic. It takes some time."
Bill Wallace handcrafts the stunning awards presented annually at the City of Raleigh Environmental Awards program. "The plan was always to use a natural product, something wooden," says Cindy Holmes, Sustainability Analyst and producer of the Environmental Awards event. The first time she saw Wallace's work, she knew she had found the perfect person to create the prized items. The awards event recognizes individuals and organizations that have demonstrated a commitment to the environment.