Since 1969, Beth Woody of Hillsborough has spent her time at the N.C. State Fair as part of the Village of Yesteryear. Mary Cornwell, the first superintendent of the Village of Yesteryear, invited her to participate in the Village and demonstrate how to make Christmas decorations.
Since then, Woody has been involved in making and demonstrating many crafts, such as sculptured paper lamp shades, cold water lye soap and kaleidoscopes. Her first love is marquetry, which she was introduced 40 years ago.
“I first saw marquetry from Thayer Frances, another crafter in the Village of Yesteryear. We talked about marquetry and I remained interested.
Marquetry is like “painting with wood,” Woody said. The artist uses the natural colors and grain of many different species of wood to create pictures. Some of Woody’s pieces can have up to 80 different species of wood.
Marquetry is a labor of love. It takes many hours to complete pieces. “I have people ask me all the time how long does it take. My answer is it takes as long as it takes. It depends on how you feel, what kind of mood the wood is in – believe me wood has it’s own moods – and how many interruptions you get.”
Woody gets many of her patterns for her art from organizations like the Marquetarians of the Carolinas. “You are limited only by your imagination,” she said. Woody showed me her process for creating a piece of art. “This is bird’s eye (wood),” she said. “I am going to use this side of the wood because each of these little eyes (dents) will look like stars when I finish.”
What Woody loves most about the Village of Yesteryear is the family atmosphere. “All of us crafters care about one another. Sure, we work long hours and I can’t get around the fair like I used to. But on the Monday after the fair, my husband and I unload and by that afternoon I am already thinking and planning and getting ready for the next year’s fair.”
“The fair gets in your blood and when it does you are here,” she added. For the last several years, Woody has also judged the needlework competition at the fair.
Visit Woody in the Village of Yesteryear daily from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. through the run of the fair.