Greenville native chosen to take part in Southern Makers
A fallen tree may just look like firewood to most folks.
To Harry Dearing, it looks like potential.
The 76-year-old Greenville man turns fallen trees and discarded lumber into what could only be described as works of art.
“I just try to enhance what nature has given me to work with,” Harry said.
Harry collects scrap lumber from old buildings weathered by decades, and trees that have been knocked down by storms or cut down to make room for construction, and turns them into tables, cutting boards, foot stools, gun racks and more.
What makes his work so unique is that he leaves the edge of his creations in the shape the wood was when it was harvested. He describes this as live edge.
“I try to build the piece around what I’m given (with the wood),” he said. “That’s probably what takes the most time. I spend more time thinking about what to actually do than I do constructing the piece.”
Since retiring two years ago, Harry has jumped into woodworking with both feet.
Beginning Saturday his work will be on display at Southern Makers at the Union Station Train Shed in Montgomery.
Southern Makers is a once-a-year event that features some of the state’s most talented “makers” — designers, craftspeople, artists, farmers and chefs.
The event organizers hand select each of the 100 “makers.”
Harry said he feels fortunate to have the opportunity to be featured alongside such talented people.
He agreed to submit his work for consideration at the nudging of his family.
“Back in the fall the kids talked him into submitting his work,” said his wife Mary. “They took pictures and put together a write up, and Harry was one of the 100 selected.”
He’s since been busy turning his vast collection of lumber into stunning pieces to sell at the show.
“I’ve got wood stacked in my closet, leaning against the wall, under the bed and stored at friends’ houses and shops,” Harry said with a grin. “I’ve been accumulating it for close to 25 or 30 years.”
Mary said some of her favorite pieces that Harry’s ever made came as the result of a cherry tree that was blown down during Hurricane Ivan.
“There were so many beautiful old trees that were blown down and Harry took that cherry tree and really made some nice pieces,” she said.
Harry said it’s unlikely any of these pieces would have been created without the help of Larry Lehman.
“He’s been a mentor to me,” Harry said. “He’s been willing to share his technical expertise with me and has passed on his attention to detail. I’ve learned a great deal from him.”
Harry said he’s also received a great deal of help from other craftsmen, such a Neil Faulkenberry and James Taylor.
“I’ve had so much help along the way from many good friends,” he said.
Harry said his children, Frances Frakes, Donald Matthews, Mary McKinley, MacDonald Russell, Cody Wesley, Bill Lewis and Marilyn Grayson, among others have helped him along the way.
“Of course Mary has been a key cog in keeping me on task and supporting me,” he said.
“And I’ve done it without hitting him with a piece of wood,” Mary said with a laugh.
Harry’s work will be on display in Montgomery on Saturday and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. The cost to enter is $25 for an adult for one day or $40 for a two-day pass. The cost for children ages 10-15 is $10 for a single day and $20 for a two-day pass. Children under 10 are admitted for free.
Harry’s work is also on display at The Roost in Greenville and has been shown at High Horse Gallery.