High school sweethearts Mary Ann and Bill Nead create artistic works together.

Archived Story

Neads enjoy hobbies side by side

Published 11:21am Friday, June 1, 2012 Updated 12:56pm Friday, June 1, 2012

High school sweethearts Mary Ann and Bill Nead have a unique way of keeping their love strong: creating art together. Originally from Cincinnati, Ohio, this Underwood couple has spent the past 42 years of marriage raising their two children, spending time with their five grandchildren and finding hobbies they both enjoy.

Bill had a unique talent taught to him at a young age by his grandfather, Thoersten Noren: leather carving.

“I really enjoyed working with my grandfather on projects growing up,” Bill said. “He showed me the basics – what types of tools to use to make the design on the leather, how to lay out the designs and how to use my artistic license to bring my visions into a (two-dimensional) piece of art.”

In the 1970s, Bill decided to join the U.S. Army. On his downtime, he found himself going back to his roots and picking up leather carving again.

“I found myself making all kinds of things, from custom carved holsters, handbags, wallets to bi-folds,” Bill said.

Bill uses a mix of his own designs and other images to create his designs.

“I like the Native American style of the two dimensional art,” he said. “I like doing some of my designs in that type of style. My favorite piece I think I have ever done would have to be a bi-fold I made for a friend. He wanted a American Bald Eagle on it and after over a month and many hours of tedious intricate lines, it turned out really cool.”

Mary Ann has a unique talent of her own: weaving.

The Neads had family friends come over for dinner one evening and were showing them around the house when their friends saw the couple’s old 1950s Singer Sewing machine. Being collectors, the friends wanted the machine, and they ended up trading the Neads a Union Rug Loom for the Singer.

“I decided to take a six-week course on how to use the loom and quickly fell in love with the art,” said Mary Ann.

Mary Ann makes anything from scarves to towels, table runners to her favorite baby blankets – which measure 36 by 36 inches and take more than 20 hours to make.

“I enjoy the challenge and how much time it to takes to make each piece,” she said.

These days, you can find the now-retired Bill and Mary Ann in the back room of their home on Norway Lake, working side by side on each piece and intricate design.

“This is so very nice after all these years that we can spend so much time together, relaxing, enjoying each others company and doing something we both love,” said Mary Ann.

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