WATCH: 'As I work, something emerges': Charley’s passion for crafting with wood

"All the wood I use is local timber and trees that fall in storms because they have reached the end of their life." 
WATCH: 'As I work, something emerges': Charley’s passion for crafting with wood

Charley McCarthy turns a wood piece to be a bowl. Picture: Mostafa Darwish.

Charley McCarthy’s love of working with wood started with a chance experience on holidays and has since grown into a passion

Mr McCarthy, a woodturner from Fermoy, is one of the craftspeople involved in Blackwater Valley Makers.

“When we got together first about four years ago, I didn’t realise that there were these other wonderful craftspeople and artists in the area,” he says.

His interest was sparked when he came across a shop full of turned and carved wood pieces 20 years ago in a visit to Venice.

“A week later, I went and did some carving classes,” he said. “I did carving for maybe five years or more, and then, for my 50th birthday, my family gave me a late woodturning lathe.”

He took classes with different woodturners, and later joined the Cork Chapter of the Irish woodturners guild, which has 60 members.

“It was very helpful at the beginning. I got great advice from the members.’’

Mr McCarthy loves the process involved in his craft, which starts with cutting trees into pieces and leaving them for six months to a year to dry before being worked on.

“What I enjoy most is taking a piece of wood that looks fairly ordinary. And then as I work on, something emerges, and I don’t always know what is going to emerge. 

"Often I make things, and I don’t want to part with them. I usually keep them until I make something else that I prefer.”

Charley McCarthy pauses for a portrait in his workshop. 
Charley McCarthy pauses for a portrait in his workshop. 

At a time when we are urged to consider sustainability and our carbon footprint, Mr McCarthy stresses that he doesn’t import any wood.

“All the wood I use is local timber and trees that fall in storms because they have reached the end of their life, often dead trees, sometimes the trees, they’re not healthy, or the roots are not healthy.”

“What happens is if we have a storm and some trees come down, I will be contacted by people that a tree is available.’’

Mr McCarthy believes that it is essential to educate people about craft and the importance of supporting local crafts, something that is helped by the shop the Blackwater Valley Makers run in Fermoy.

“I think the people who come into our shop certainly appreciate what we make in the shop,” he says.

“What is made and made by local people, whether it’s woodturning or the artists or the ceramics. I think people realise that they are getting unique pieces, and they appreciate that.”

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