ORIGINALLY WRITTEN JULIE ANDERSON
Melody Hall, Goessel, has proven that woodworking is no longer the domain of men-if it ever was. Working with wood comes naturally to Hall, who grew up around the craft.
Hall is the creator and sole employee of Quiet Moments Fine Handcrafts, a craft business she runs out of her home. She makes bases for candles and oil lamps, as well as Christmas ornaments, candy jars, tops and bird feeders.
“I am one of six girls, no boys, and my dad’s a very skilled woodworker, so I grew up with him working with wood,” she said.
Hall knew she wanted to work with wood, and all she knew was carpentry and cabinet making. She did not want to build houses, so she decided to make cabinets.
In the early 1980s, Hall’s husband, Eddy, created some workspace, with outlets and a workbench, as a Christmas present, but she didn’t have any tools.
A few months later, she was shown a lathe and told how it worked.
Then, in 1986, when they sold their home, they used some of the money to buy a Shop Smith, which has five different tools on it, including a table saw, drill press and lathe.
“I just went by the step-by-step instructions on how to use the lathe and I taught myself how to turn,” Hall said. “So that’s how I got started.”
Hall’s dad also bought her a new band saw a year ago, which helps because she no longer has to tear down the lathe to change it into a table saw.
While working with wood, Hall learned about supply places and wood turners and decided to try turning.
“I have created some of my own designs and borrowed from other people,” she said.
One of the items she created was the chimney for the glass bottles that hold oil.
She said it was her husband’s idea, and she pieced together different ideas to create it.
“Once you know how to turn, it’s not difficult,” she said.
Hall had been turning for two or three years before she began making candles.
“It’s just different,” Hall said of her product line. “I probably use 40 different kinds of wood, some of them are exotic. I get wood from Africa, Australia, South America, Central America. I get branches out of friends’ yards and our yard. I use all kinds of things.
“That’s fun for me because when I set up at a show, I’ve got a whole rainbow of wood for people to choose from.”
Her favorite wood is cocoa bolo, a rosewood from Central America.
All of the things Hall makes have an outdoor finish or are finished with wax or oil.
“I like the clear finish,” she said. “I don’t use any stains or anything to color the wood. That’s why I use such a variety of wood.”
Most of Hall’s products are sold at shows, although she occasionally gets orders.
She exhibits at seven to 10 shows a year. Recently, she began doing bigger shows where she is gone for several days at a time.
The farthest she has gone is to Arkansas and Missouri. This fall she will go to Des Moines, Iowa.
“The things I want to do are endless,” she said. “I like to do small things, so I have a number of small projects in mind. I would like to get into doing some small vessels-little containers-and vases.”
Vases were her original product, but she has gotten away from that of late. She also wants to do more Christmas ornaments, something more elaborate such as tree top ornaments.
A lot of Hall’s designs she comes up with while she is playing with wood on the lathe. She also said she gets ideas from looking around at various round objects, such as pillars, spindles on furniture, lamps and fence posts.
“There are all kinds of places to see shapes and I often make sketches of shapes I see,” she said.
How long it takes Hall to create an item depends on the design.
“I work production style,” she said. “The fastest way for me to work is to do one item and a whole bunch of them.”
She cuts all of the pieces of wood to the proper shape and size, then turns them.
Not only does Hall enjoy wood turning, but she says it also is therapeutic for her.
“It’s creative,” she said. “It’s fun to watch something become real in front of my eyes as I cut away the wood and watch something develop.”
Hall also was a member of a wood-turners group in Rose Hill a few years ago. She was the only woman in the group.
“Wood turning is growing as a hobby and as a business for people,” Hall said.