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Green crafts have earth-friendly tales

Jim Miles has an eye for wood, although what he finds appealing is not what most people would look for.

Wormholes are OK. So's rot if there's some beauty down inside. A gnarly chunk with a twisty grain also works.

A Cornelius woodturner, Miles fashions walnut, maple and other wood into large bowls and vases. And he works “green,” hunting for scraps of wood from downed trees he can recycle into art.

Miles is one of several “green” artists who will be in the 14th annual American Craft Council Show running today through Sunday at the Charlotte Convention Center uptown.

The event features about 175 crafts artists from around the country, including 44 from the Carolinas. On view and for sale will be high-end furniture, jewelry, clothing, sculpture and toys made of wood, fiber, glass, ceramic and metal.

To be included, craft artists had to submit work to be juried by the ACC, a national nonprofit that supports crafts.

Forty-five artists are entered this year in the new “green craft” category, which recognizes those who, according to an ACC statement, “combine environmentally friendly materials with sustainable processes.”

There's John Geci of Bakersville, who worked in a glass studio at the EnergyXchange in Yancey County, using a kiln heated by methane gas from a landfill.

And Miles, whose contacts with several landscape companies secures him pieces of downed trees. He'll also stop his pickup if he spies a likely prospect being cut down.

He's especially interested in trees with some history.

On the Fourth of July in 2007, a state-champion osage orange near UNC Charlotte thought to be 200 years old was set ablaze by illegal fireworks and destroyed. Miles made turned bowls from what was left.

He's done the same from a large tree that stood on Queens Road in the Myers Park neighborhood toppled by a storm.

“What I try to find is wood that has a little story behind it,” he said. “People find that interesting.”

Such recycling means Miles isn't buying wood off the market, leading to the cutting down of trees. And it takes pressure off the landfill.

“I'm using big chunks of trees that probably are going to the landfill if I hadn't done something about it,” he said.

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