Bill Beck

I am married, retired, and fulfilling a fifty-five year-old self-teaching journey.  As a teenager, living in a three-room apartment, I built cabinets at the kitchen table and was forced to clear it for breakfast lunch and dinner. My first serious woodwork was in a U.S. Army craft shop in the 1960’s. Marriage and long working hours keep my woodwork and art time to a minimum.  Retiring to Florida in 1995 I spent time doing what I wanted, riding my motorcycle  (did the Iron Butt in 2002) and flat work.  A heart attack ended the 49-year love affair with motorcycles. Turning a pen for my wife in 2007 hooked me on the lathe. Now you might say that I am living the dream…doing what I want, when I want for however long I want.

The Flat work I still do seems to involve the South Georgia Woodworker’s guild.   It’s true, at least for me; the lathe is VERY addictive.

All material (with the exception of paint) has been rescued. Landfill, tree surgeons and landscapers have been my source of material since 2008.   As you can readily see in the displayed work, I keep experimenting. Going back and forth from straight turning, painting, piercing, carving, embellishing, and back again keeps the interest level up and the skill level (I hope) increasing.  I currently use a Jet mini and really don’t see myself going any larger.

I have been told that my work is “surrealistic turning”.  Being self taught I do not know if that is true or not.  Quite frankly I still do not know if my work comes out of a studio or a shop.  It is up to the eye of the beholder, meaning you.  Viewers will frequently ask, “What is it”.  The only answer is what ever you see in it, and, I hope that is beauty. 

Eleven of my turnings were displayed for the first time at the Jacksonville Florida Public library in the winter of 2010.

Soon I will be forced to start selling some of my turnings, or finding more friends as our home is being overrun by my “artsy thingies”.

I hope you have as much pleasure viewing my work as I have had in creating it.



Camphor 5.5” x 2.5”.   Every so often I try to remember it’s all about turning a pleasant shape.  Danish oil and beall buffed.

Michelle’s Lace
Sycamore and poplar 10" x 4". Air brushed with acrylics. Michelle owns a needlepoint store in town and picked out the lace.

Weeping Willow and Poplar 6.5" x  5. Finished with Danish oil and poly.

Cherry Coke
Sycamore 4.5" X 2.25" walls are about 3\32. This was salvaged from a split. The bottom was carved to give it a bit of depth. The flat black interior and “cherry” stem tend to float the cherry.  Acrylic and about 5 coats of home brew wipe on poly.

Hole In One
Willow 2.25” x 7”. This thin turning had a bit of a bark inclusion that fell out while sanding (the hole). I kind of liked the shape and after looking at it on and off for about a week decided to embellish it like a golf course. Of course it then needed a golf ball. The finish was several very light wipings of green artisan dye and blending into the grain pattern then about 5 coats of home brew wipe on poly and beall buffed.

Sycamore and poplar 14" x 2.5. The name says it all. This one just evolved from bits and pieces. Carved and air brushed with acrylics

From The Wood Pile #2
Pear and Poplar 11" x 3.5". I turned through the bottom of what was going to be a natural form. A three piece base, a final from another project that did not work out lots of air brushing and saved from the fireplace. The stalk of the finial is 4" x less than .125

Sycamore and poplar 7.5" x 2.5". Don’t know if I like the stand, however, could not think of any other way to stand it up. I kind of like the effect of the pierced back (first attempt at piercing) and removable top.

From The Wood Pile #1
Pear and poplar 7" x 3.5". Turning was catch (OUCH) and shattered.. Some CA glue and (creative?) dremel tool work smoothed out the edges. I then thought to make it into a TRUN (TRilegUrN) piece, but it looked to interesting to leave well enough alone. Out come the stem holders for the top and bottom of the finial. A natural pear top piece and a whole lot of air brushing .

Feathered Friend
Weeping Willow 3" x 6"(top of feathers).  If at all possible I try to use the character of the wood to get ideas.  I believe that this wood must have been psychedelic for this to be created.  Danish oil and Beall buffed.

Bay and poplar 5"x7". My attempt at using an airbrush last used when my son was in the cub scouts 40+ years ago. The holder of the finial is three colors, white to yellow and yellow to red. Hollow form is painted flat black on the inside (it gives the piece depth). Body is finished with Danish oil, wipe on poly and beall buff prior the attaching legs.

No Name
Weeping Willow 9" x 2.5 " An early attempt at using an air brush. I seem to be putting turnings on a base more often, it tends to set them apart and become more “artsy”

Escape To A Black Hole
Poplar 8” x 2.5”.    All wood is pressure dyed with trans tint in a PVC chamber I built.. Over 700 pieces, each row is .125 high.

Camphor 3.5“ by 4 “.  The wood inclusion would just spoil a mediocre piece; the piercing sets it off as a feature and gives it some character.   Unfinished, just buffed