Not long ago, my friend Brenda Hottel of Pop's Grill in New Harmony, took a few moments to brag on one of the village craftsmen that specializes in miniatures.
She and her husband have been keeping displaying small amounts of it for their customers to enjoy while visiting their restaurant.
Since the miniatures have become a hit, and are getting loads of attention from their guests, Brenda asked if I'd consider interviewing the artist who makes them and of course I agreed.
I'd noticed the display not long after it was placed and I was quite taken with it so I was definitely interested in meeting the artist responsible for the work.
As it turns out, I'd already met him, but we'd not talked much when we met. I know, I know -- hard to believe but totally true.
The reason for that is, Harry, who is Pop of Pop's Grill, and I got caught up in a discussion about the work of one of our favorite writers, Rev. Frank Peretti, author of This Present Darkness, The Oath, and much, MUCH more.
To find another Peretti fan in my circle is always exciting and the Peretti-exchange quickly dominated the conversation.
So, I'd sat next to the craftsman of miniatures for a half an hour and had no idea he was the guy I'd be interviewing a short time later.
My thanks to Brenda for helping me get an appointment with him, and for the use of a large table and lots of fresh coffee for the meeting at Pop's Grill the following week.
Meet another of the multi-talented residents of New Harmony, Indiana
I was warned that he might be a bit shy, which always provides me with a wonderful challenge. I love it when I get to see folks drop their guard and open up with me, especially when they're telling me about something they've got a passion for.
Charlie Thomas didn't disappoint me. He wasn't one to brag about any of his work, but he avidly explained how he enjoys it and how he goes about making the pieces, what types of wood he uses and his lifetime love-affair with carpentry.
All of his work is made from rescued pieces of scrap wood that he gets from a local wood-disposal bin.
There he finds a variety of beautiful wood that is too small to do other projects with but works perfectly to make miniatures from. He also makes true-to-life sized pieces of some objects, but the majority of his work that I've seen has been miniature replicas of much larger items.
He crafts the pieces in a woodshop on his property and after a bit of measuring and reshaping, he produces unique works of art that are receiving some impressive attention from locals and the tourists who frequently visit New Harmony.
This is a small slide-show of some of the work he's done that is catching people's interest.
Beautiful wooden reflections by Charles L. Thomas
A bit about the craftsman ...
As I talked with Mr. Thomas I came across other gems in his personal history that I felt privileged to have him tell me about.
He's a New Harmony native, born on the outskirts of town in a house that had dirt floors and was raised by his grandmother. Mr. Thomas is also a decorated veteran of the Viet Nam War, being awarded the Purple Heart for injuries sustained during his service.
While we visited, I quickly became not only a fan of his work but of him personally. He strikes me as a very kind man and was not a bit shy in sharing with me that he's been a Christian for many years and is a part of the congregation at Lighthouse Assembly of God in New Harmony, where he loves attending services.
I've also been privileged to get acquainted with his wife, Goldie, who is just as personable as her husband and is also a fan of his art. The two of them are excellent company, and I'm enjoying getting to know them better.
If you'd like further information on Mr. Thomas' art pieces, you can reach them via the Pop's Grill website at popsgrill.biz. Harry and Brenda, the restaurant owners, are good about forwarding messages. If you'd like a better view of his work, stop by for lunch or dinner (516 S. Main St. in New Harmony) and they'll be happy to show you whatever they've got available for display, while you enjoy an awesome meal!
(I recommend the veggie-cheeseburger, sided with spicy homemade chips and a vanilla phosphate!)
I hope you've enjoyed getting acquainted with Mr. Thomas and his beautiful artwork as much as I have. It's definitely been loads of fun sharing what I've learned with you.
God bless you, thank you for the read, and please don't forget to thank a veteran at your next opportunity!
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