HAMLET — What began as just a hobby about 15 years after retiring from the railroad has turned into a creative pastime for Richard Pait.
Speaking during a quick break on Friday afternoon during the Masonic Lodge chicken and dumplings fundraiser, Pait talked about his some of his creations which are on display at the Hamlet Public Library through the end of March.
“When I first started out, I never knew anyone else that did this type of carving,” he said. “The first year, most of my carvings ended up in the fireplace. But I persevered, and things started getting better.”
Pait drives around the area, looking for wood that has often ended up on the side of the road after being chopped down, asking the property owner for permission before taking the wood.
Once he gets it home, Pait makes notation of where the wood was found and the date, and places it in a paper bag. He says the wood needs to dry out for a year before he starts to work on it, then he can begin the transformation of a simple piece of roadside wood into a bowl, a wine stopper, a goblet, or even a gavel.
The wood carvings on display are in the showcase as you enter the library. On the top shelf is a large walnut bowl, two airbrush-painted plates, a Bradford pear bowl, and wine bottle stoppers made from a Purple Heart tree from South America.
The second shelf holds a large pine wood bowl, a weeping cherry wood bowl which came from the Harrington Funeral Home property, and two maple tree bowls.
Pait explained that he “brands” his bowls on the bottom and his wife personalizes them sometimes by drawing a tree.
On the bottom shelf of the display are four maple wood bowls with a unique discoloration because the tree had started to spalt, or rot away.
After you get a look at these one-of-a-kind bowls and plates, you might wonder, where are these items for sale? Surely Richard Pait has a website or attends the local craft fairs at least.
Unfortunately, that is not the case. Pait makes these items for family and friends, and the people he gets the wood from. Many hours of hard, dusty work goes into the creation of these beautiful bowls and plates.
But keep the name Richard Pait in mind the next time you are planning to cut down a tree on your property. Maybe you will get really lucky, and he will ride by your house and then ask to work his magic on a piece of your discarded wood.
You never know.