LANSING-Gary Ham is an artist.
His wooden creations are a testament to his skills as a craftsman and his pieces harken back to a simpler time with simpler pleasures.
Although he is an experienced shaper and bender of wood, his latest project was unlike anything he had ever attempted.
Jim Taylor, of Shelby, recently contacted Ham about the possibility of restoring a derelict wooden wagon, which had been reduced to a misshapen skeleton of decaying wood and rust.
Taylor had come across the piece one day while driving on North Fork New River Road. After some gentle coaxing, Taylor was able to come between it and the owner.
“All of the pieces of the wagon were still intact,” said Taylor. “I asked Gary if it could be rebuilt and if he would do it. He said, ‘Yes and yes.’”
Ham, along with his son, Chris, then set about restoring the wooden framed wagon with the pieces available from the time period it was constructed.
Initially, Ham noticed the wagon was narrower and longer than most. Some preliminary research cued him into the wagon’s primary use: it was an old timey funeral hearse that likely saw its fair share of simple pine boxes that contained some of the mountain’s early pioneers.
Goosebumps aside, Ham and his son set about restoring the wagon when time allowed. From the comfort of the workshop on Little Horse Creek Road in Lansing, the men pieced back together this forgotten treasure of time.
The wagon’s white wood, which is known as a strong and durable wood, was salvaged and refinished. The wagon’s wheels, too, were up to par, save a few broken spokes.
“They are master at working with wood,” Taylor said of their work. “That’s a major chore and a major accomplishment to build it from the ground up.”
For Ham, however, it was no major undertaking.
“I just enjoyed putting it back together…figuring where everything went,” said Ham.
Chris also enjoys these wooden puzzles.
“I just like watching these things develop out of the lumber,” he said.
Reach Jesse Campbell at (336) 846-7164.
Chris and Gary Ham and Jim Taylor show off a recently restored wagon.