Behind his house, Mattoon resident Greg Williams’ wood shop resides in a garage, outfitted with a stockpile of wood, plenty of tools and past creations that tell the story of his craftsmanship.
Through decades of measuring, cutting and even healing a wound or two, Williams makes all the magic happen in his wood shop. This year, for the first time, that magic includes a finely-crafted entertainment center that will be auctioned off at the Sarah Bush Lincoln Holiday Festival.
Though this is the first time he’s crafted furniture for the Holiday Festival, Williams has been creating wood works for 39 years. Starting in 1983, he taught himself how to create different objects through woodworking.
“I just really enjoy crafting different furniture and objects,” Williams said. “It’s relaxing, it’s a little bit of a challenge, I’ve done just about everything.”
In both his work shop and house, displayed are his creations from over the years. The very first thing he crafted, a six-foot-plus tall walnut shelf, still stands strong in his house, and other creations, like a rocking chair, sit in the shop waiting to be used.
Williams said his inspiration to start woodworking came about in the late 70s/early 80s, when Norm Abram’s show, “This Old House,” became popular. Williams bought Abram’s book and decided, “I can do this stuff.”
For him, quality is the most important thing. Since he devotes a lot of time making pieces for others, he wants to make sure it’s well put together. “If I don’t like it, I’ll take it apart and I’ll redo it,” he explained.
Williams considers himself a charitable person, whether it be through his woodworking or his time elsewhere. He volunteers his time at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore shop location in Charleston.
In fact, Melissa McDaniel, the Coles County Habitat for Humanity executive director, recommended to Kim Lockart, the SBL special events officer, to have an entertainment center in the live auction. Williams said he wanted to give something for the Holiday Festival auction because he wanted someone to be able to use it.
Although Williams is accustomed to making furniture for other people, this is the first time one of his creations will be featured in the Holiday Festival auction. His wife, Gloria, worked at SBL, and while she did, she decorated some of the small Christmas trees that were sold.
The entertainment center Williams made is a piece that is sure to stand out during the auction. Crafted from maple wood, it stands 77 inches tall, just under 22 inches wide and 85 inches long. It features nine shelves (some with lights), four drawers and three cabinets. In total, Williams said it probably took him about a month to put it together.
No matter who claims the entertainment center for themselves, they can relax knowing that it has the Greg Williams quality seal of approval.
Starting November 10, the SBL Holiday Festival will offer an online silent auction, featuring home décor, wreaths and packages with pizzazz. The silent auction ends at 8 pm on Monday, November 14. The gala and live auction, which take place at 6 pm on November 12, features furniture, like Williams’ entertainment center, and trips, entertainment packages and ornately decorated trees.
The gala is sold out, but you can still participate in the live auction. Live auction raffle tickets are available for $100 each, and if your ticket is drawn, the item you want is automatically yours. You need not be present to win.
For more information, contact Kim Lockart at 217-258-2511.