Montrose man receives special woodworking scholarship

The Inter-Mountain photo by Tim MacVean Artists at Work members Pam Roberts, from left, and Dave Shombert congratulate David Medlock, of Montrose, as the 2018 Charlie Willett memorial scholarship recipient. The $600 scholarship will pay dues for Medlock to participate in woodworking classes at the West Virginia Wood Technology Center in Elkins. Willett spent roughly 20 years as an avid woodworker and the scholarship is meant to commemorate his life and woodworking skills.

ELKINS — An area man has received a scholarship that was created to pay homage to the late Charlie Willett, from Artists at Work in Elkins.

David Medlock, 29, of Montrose, is the recipient of the scholarship, which will enable him to take woodworking classes at the West Virginia Wood Technology Center.

“The members of Artists at Work in downtown Elkins wanted to commemorate Charlie Willett’s life and his fine woodworking skills,” a press release from Artist at Work member Pam Roberts said. “They pulled resources and collected $600 in order to provide dues at the Wood Technology Center in Elkins for an individual who would carry on this tradition.”

Medlock said he has worked with wood for the past six years, making musical instruments and building a timber frame home on his property.

“I first fell in love with wood working while building acoustic steel string and classical guitars about six years ago. Once my family purchased a farm and wood lot in northern Randolph County I studied timber framing and have been building a timber frame home on the property while pursuing woodworking. I’m currently studying and practicing contemporary and mid-century furniture making as well as woodturning. We own a Wood-Mizer saw mill and have a solar kiln on the farm for drying our own sustainably harvested trees from the wood lot.”

He added he has learned a lot about woodworking from a variety of artists in the area.

“I was introduced to (West Virginia Wood Technology Center) by Elkins woodworker Kent Anderson. Once I joined, Dave Proudfoot took to introducing me to everyone in the area he believed I needed to meet to further my learning, which included Dave Shombert,” Medlock said. “Dave has been incredibly kind and supportive and spent time teaching me the basics of bowl turning in his shop. I was very surprised and honored to find that Dave and Artists at Work were interested in helping me continue my hands-on learning experience at (West Virginia Wood Technology Center) in the form of the Charlie Willett scholarship.”

Medlock said he feels honored to have not only received this scholarship but also support from artists and woodworkers throughout the county.

“(West Virginia Wood Technology Center) has introduced me to countless talented artists and woodworkers all of whom have been more than gracious to teach me anything I would like to know and for that I am incredibly thankful. The artistic community I’ve been adopted into here in Randolph County is just incredibly inspiring and encouraging; I can’t think of anywhere else in the state that could yield such an opportunity for creative expression,” he said. “My interests are pretty diverse but most start in the forest and end up being something beautiful that tells a story and can connect people back to nature — that makes me happy and is what I long to do. My only guess as to how I came to be selected is that Dave and others noticed my curiosity and desire to always learn and that they wanted to help further encourage that.”

Willett enjoyed working with wood and spent roughly 20 years perfecting his craft. He attended the Augusta Heritage Center’s woodworking classes to learn the skills necessary for producing top quality wooden products, according to the press release.

He created cutting boards, jewelry boxes and treenware for the kitchen out of West Virginia hardwoods. He traveled to a nearby sawmill to purchase the wood and constructed his pieces at the Wood Technology Center, where he was a member.

Willett helped other members of the Wood Technology Center to learn his craft and believed it was important to pass on knowledge to others, the release states.