So I take the left on Forrestville Rd, just as the Mapquest directions indicate. Being North Carolina, the road is flanked on both sides with tall pines. About a mile in I come upon a large, white, cinderblock building with an even larger metal building, teed onto the back. The sign next to the drive says Kay & Sons Woodworks. I’ld arrived.
Driving up the long gravel lane, you begin the realize you’re not only on the property of a business, you’re on the property of an individual. Fully mature blackberry bushes and purple martin bird houses decorate the landscape. Once in the small parking lot, you’re afforded a hidden glimpse of Kay’s house. Surly built by him, a woodworker, given the complimentary arch roofed barn, sitting in close proximity.
I had gotten Kay’s number by chance. Katie, Ethan and I, had been in Raleigh for about a month and my search for work was intensifying. By this time I was walking onto job sites, portfolio in hand, asking for work. You can imagine the looks I received, showing a binder of finished art and studio furniture to tradesmen and migrant workers. The most common reply I recieved, you’re overqualified. Fortunately during one of my wild goose chases, I ran into a cabinetmaker, leaving a jobsite. He interestingly looked over my binder of miscellany, then mentioned the shop he purchased doors from was looking for help. That was all I needed to hear. I went home and scheduled an interview.
Walking under a covered porch, equipped with rocking chairs and ceiling fans, you enter the showroom. A mahogany mantel, wall of cherry cabinetry and numerous articles and awards decorated the front room. Looking around, it was obvious that this shop was big time.
Clay was the first Hill I met, followed by his twin brother Kay Jr, or as the shop preferred “little Kay”. After introductions and a quick overview of my work, Clay handed me a sheet of paper. I was told to fill it out, as he left the office. It was a test. Yes, an actual written math and woodworking quiz. After about 15 minutes, the questions were answered. I handed it in for grading and got a tour of the shop, while my test was graded.
From the showroom and offices, we walked through a door and into a hallway. A chalkboard on the wall had space balls and glue scribbled on it. The sound of the shop was beginning to come into tune. When the next door was opened, the sound waves crashed upon me. I was now in the shop and getting my first look of the place I would call work, for the next several years.
To Be Continued…
*all photos property of Scott Hill Photography