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Woodwork Artist Carves Giant Ball Collection in Red Hook

 Artist Keith Holamon hopes to creaye 108 wooden balls in the "Ball Project" that will form a collection at his Red Hook Woodlot.
The Ball Project
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RED HOOK — Keith Holamon isn’t a mathematician but he saw beauty in a sphere.

A love of woodwork and a need to create the perfect wooden ball brought Holamon, a woodwork artist, to his latest feat, “the Ball Project.”

Holamon, 46, who houses his studio at the Red Hook Woodlot on Coffey Street, said his goal, which admittedly might take the rest of his life, is to create 108 wooden balls using different species of wood.

At about a dozen, Holamon’s collection boasts tree varieties like maple, walnut, red wood, cherry, pine and even eucalyptus, he said.

Growing up in Zephyr, Texas, Holamon found an interest in building tools and machinery, which fed into his skill for woodwork after taking a shop class in high school, he said.

To carve the giant wooden spheres, Holamon used an old log truck to build a large-scale lathe, a machine that rotates the wood-piece on an axis so it can be carved evenly, typically to create instruments like baseball bats and candlestick holders.

“I just wanted to see how close to the perfect sphere I could make,” said Holamon.

Later, his goal became, “how big I could go.”

His largest ball, so far, is a 50-inch oak wood ball that weighs about 2,000 pounds, he said. (To put that into perspective, a 24-inch ball would use a seven-foot long piece of wood with a 27-inch diameter, he said.)

Holamon has been traveling the country in search of scrap wood that no longer has use to craft his newest artwork, he said.

Many of the wooden balls have unique cavities and indentations, which Holamon tries to create by using decaying wood or even pieces that have been infested by ants, terminates or struck by lightning.

“I want the parts that you don’t want,” he said. “I like the uglier pieces.”

While much of Holamon’s work uses wood, including his large-scale decorative wall slabs, he still works with metal and is always tinkering with machinery, particularly his lathe, he said.

The Red Hook Woodlot, Holamon’s open-air studio on Coffey St., is where the woodturner hopes to exhibit his entire collection of wooden balls as well as host other artists and musicians to make the spot a “community space.”

For more information on Holamon Studios, visit this website.