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Dad spends summer passing down wood skills to son

By Staff | Jul 2, 2009

Wes Roberts dad worked with wood his entire life. He passed his trade and love of wood to Roberts.

Now it’s Wes’s turn to hand-down his years of work and know how to his 19-year-old son David.

The two are spending the summer working on intricate, hand-carved wooden pieces. For Wes, 65, the extra help from his college-student son is vital because along with showing him the artsy side of wood work, Wes is showing David about carpentry and how to make repairs around the house. With the extra pair of hands, this allows Wes to work on art projects in his down stairs studio.

Tool by tool, Wes is teaching David every fine detail of the art of wood working.

“This summer I am literally teaching him everything I know,” Wes said.

This includes building elaborate homes and creating art pieces and furniture.

The one-time Wyoming native said he has been a wood-based artist his entire life.

“I am truly in love with woods,” Wes said.

This reverence and love for woods has taken many forms including his family’s 4,000 square foot home built by scratch in Chicago, and a piece that won first place in the 57th Street University of Chicago Art Show.

By the time Wes and his wife and prominent artist Myra Roberts and their two children moved to Sanibel 11 years ago had taken a break from woodworking. His work as a biology teacher in both high schools and universities along with helping raise his family left little time for his craft. It took a commission for a piece of furniture from neighbor and friend Mark Corke to get him started again.

Now his studio is filled with the heady scents of rich black walnut and Brazilian woods. The hum of machinery shakes gently in the air and a fine silky layer of dust from the finished pieces falls against the floor.

Wes’s pieces are being grabbed by art collectors and art organizations such as BIG ARTS are highlighting his work.

So at the ripening of his art career Wes sees it only fitting to chisel in a place for his son at the work station.

“David always helped me as a little guy,” Wes said with a smile. “David this summer is ready. He’s getting a sense for how beautiful hardwoods are.”

David on break from school as a Environmental Science and Policy major is excited to have the chance to learn woodworking from his dad. He is also elated to be paid while learning. Wes hired him to help for the entire summer. A chance to learn an art and skill and earn money in a rough economy is dream for the young man.

“I am really happy that my dad is teaching me,” David said. “I love art, its another means of expression for me.”

David just completed an art course at Florida Gulf Coast University in which he created a wood-based art project. The piece helped him score an A in the class and some more experience in working with his dad.

David said he hopes to create a wooden art series of his own as he progresses through his sort of apprenticeship with his father.

Wes laughs about now sharing his tools and rare and pricey wood pieces with David. The other day David asked to use the choicest piece of wood in his bucket and Wes had to smile after agreeing to let him use it.

“It’s such a privilege to hand this down to Dave,” he said. “It (woodworking art just transforms you.”