November’s presentation was delivered by Eddie Hamrick. Eddie, currently a Hickory resident has crafted gifts for seven presidents, four North Carolina governors, and Andrew Lloyd Webber.
Phillip DeBerry introduced Eddie to the club members and we learned about many of Eddie accomplishments as a woodworker. In his own words, Eddie described his God-given passion for woodworking almost as an obsession. He has shared his work with the world and in doing so has received 3 gold medals from the National Endowment for the Arts. His work is displayed in history museums all over the state and nationally. He is an accomplished woodworker and this article from the Hickory Museum of Art details many of them. He’s been designated a “National Treasure”.
Eddie was a very early presenter at the Charlotte Woodworkers nearly 30 years ago and today our infamous Bob Fields who was around during his early years has a nutcracker that was donated by Eddie as a gift for the One Special Christmas Auction and purchased by Bob. Bob holds onto it as a special treasure. (Bob and Eddie are shown together in the feature image.)
Among Eddie’s accomplishments, he boast musical instruments, many pieces in Williamsburg, 19 churches of many denominations, governor’s desks, puppets, the Catawba County seal, awards trophies, and bats for All-Star Baseball games.
Although Eddie has many works to be proud of, he says, “I’m just faking it”, implying that although by some standards he produces some wonderful pieces of art, he has a long way to go. He says that “Someday I’ll wake up and be a real woodworker”. But that’s not what he thinks about when he’s woodworking. He focuses on the art and what he is trying to produce. People seldom consider woodworking an art, but Eddie is quick to point out that it deserves it’s merit along with other forms of art.
Eddie has a special gift for taking an idea from concept to a piece of artwork. He researches and spends time studying the nature of the item and how to make it durable then picking items around a theme. He uses no measuring tools in his work, but prefers to work the craft using his eyes and carefully honed skills as a woodworker. He looks at the detail of the concept he is going after and pulls it out of the piece of wood using a repeatable process for identifying the details and achieving the look he is after.
His craft has gained him an audience with the Queen of England in London when he was invited to the Phantom of the Opera where he provided the masks and several props used in the performance (the mask is show below).
Eddie is trying to teach others what he has learned and has taught at the John Campbell Folk School across from Newton Courthouse. He enjoys telling stories about life and woodworking and he shared some of his life with the club members. In his words, life wasn’t always rosy, but he’s been given a gift and loves using in a variety of ways.
There was a point in his life when he spent 9 months in a coma. Eddie, a man with faith in God, shared that during this time the plans for a new chapel were revealed to him.
Eddie uses no paint on his projects. He prefers to use the natural characteristics of the wood to bring out the colors he needs. The last thing he remembers actually painting was Bob’s nutcracker so many years ago.
In his work, Eddie will often develop a concept piece before making the actual piece. Sometimes it takes many repetitions before he lands on a final product.
In closing, Eddie shared many of his pieces and encouraged us to “never stop learning and trying to grow”.