William Wetheral – The Wood Man
Just over a year ago an older gentleman and his wife popped into my shop. He was very shy and modest. He was a wood worker and wondered if I would be interested in carrying his work. His name was Bill Wetheral. He was a retired dairy farmer from Cannington, and boy was his work fabulous!
Bill has been working with his hands his entire life. Living on the farm and running a cream operation kept him pretty busy all those years. Bill’s farm has been in his family since 1917. In fact his grandfather purchased it directly from the government as crown land. After retirement Bill was finally able to pursue his life long hobby of wood working, wood turning in particular. Ten years ago he went out and purchased a 15 year old wood lathe and as they say, the rest is history.
From looking at Bill’s work you would never imagine that he had no formal training to speak of. He says he is mainly self-taught from books and good old fashioned trial and error. He did however sign up for a one year membership with The Peterborough Turners Guild. There the wood workers would turn the pieces and then pass them on to decorative artists to paint.
When I ask Bill where this passion comes from he gives a shy little smile and replies, “I guess I am a little bent that way. Some folks paint, some enjoy music, but I work with wood.” Bill says he has tried to turn most things by now. “There is no secret or short cut. Practise and experience is all it is.” Bill, I think you are being a little too modest here. When you have experienced his work, you may feel the same way. And experience his work is what it is. When you see the beautiful grains and curves there is an instant need to touch it.
Bill is most famous for his stunning hand turned wooden bowls. They come in every shape and size imaginable, and they vary in wood from walnut, maple, elm, butternut and even cherry. Most of the wood Bill uses he has harvested from his own property. You can’t get much more local than that! Bill also turns, paints and decorates snowmen from old cedar posts. They are a big hit. Most snowmen I have seen other places have the attachments glued on. After several years of outdoor use they seem to lose their ears and nose, but not Bill’s. He screws everything on and to add a personal touch his wife, Carol hand knits the scarf around their necks.
Bill also does intricate wooden boxes with lids, fireplace bellows and decorative fence post sculptures for the garden. If it’s made out of wood chance’s are Bill can do it for you. One of my personal favourites is the benches he makes. The seat is made out of old hand hewn barn beams and then he hand turns the legs. No two are alike.
We are very honoured that Bill Wetheral’s work is available exclusively at The Dark Horse in Sunderland. Please drop in to see and feel his masterpieces. You can also custom order benches of variable lengths as well. Bill’s work can also be seen on our website if you click on the “artists” icon at www.darkhorsestudio.ca