Occupation: I’m a woodworker and owner of Johnny A. Williams Wood Shop in Hawleyville. I create sculptural furniture, and try to use domestic hardwood in my work. I specialize in tables of all shapes and sizes, seating, and wooden art. I sell in town exclusively at the Weathered Way on Obtuse Road, above the wood shop, and sell cutting boards at my online site, www.johnnyawilliams.com. My portfolio is there, too.
Family: I live with my mom, Kathy Williams, here in town. I have a brother, Nick, in Portland, Ore. My dad, Simon, lives in California, and I have a sister, Gemma, also in California.
Pets: We have a somewhat geriatric cocker spaniel, Meggie. We also have a 4-year-old miniature piebald dachshund, named Henry. He has three or four different colors to his coat, and a serious Napoleon complex.
How long have you lived in Newtown? I’ve lived here, on and off, for four years. Last year, I was mostly away, at the College of the Redwoods woodworking program, in California.
What do you like to do in your free time? The thing about loving what you do for a career is that it doesn’t leave a lot of free time at the end of the day. I like the simple things: reading and hiking. I do a lot of sketching. I love film and I love going down to the Aldrich Museum in Ridgefield. I try to support other artists in whatever small ways I can.
Do you have a favorite book? Right now, my favorite author is Ron Rash. He wrote Serena, my absolutely favorite book. I recommend it to everyone I come across. It’s actually being made into a movie that is coming out this fall, starring Jennifer Lawrence. My room is stacked high with books.
Do you have a favorite travel destination? I’ll always have a soft spot for South Africa. I studied abroad there. I loved the people, the culture, and the terrain. It’s kind of a country of stark contrasts. Otherwise, I think of California and the redwood forest as my second home. There’s something remarkable about standing in the redwoods and feeling so tiny, and the air is so fresh.
What is the best thing about Newtown? My favorite thing is my drive into town, down Currituck Road in my pickup, with the windows down. I like the country atmosphere. And I like knowing, too, that I’m just minutes away from such a strong community. That’s really comforting.
Who has been the greatest influence in your life? Hands down, my mom. She teaches me to be kind and resilient. I would also have to say that the wood designer Wharton Esherick has been a huge influence in my art and the whole sculptural side of my woodworking.
Do you have a personal philosophy? As a woodworker and artist, you could drive yourself crazy seeking perfection. I’ve learned to tell myself, “There’s perfect, and there’s perfect enough.”
Do you have a guilty pleasure? That’s easy. The show House Hunters on HGTV is my guilty pleasure. There’s something not so subconscious there about me wanting my own home!