Talent abounds in the Wilson family as the local husband-wife duo creates works of art.
With adjoining studios in the old Russell Machine Shop building, Sonny Wilson fabricates any number of home projects out of iron and other metals, while Tara Wilson paints and uses other forms of media to fashion pieces of artwork.
“I sometimes have to put a sign on my door, ‘artist working,’ otherwise he likes to come in and distract me,” Tara said with a grin.
The Alexander City natives decided to turn their creative outlets into moneymaking opportunities, each embracing their unique skill sets.
W2 Ironworks opened two years ago after Wilson, who is also Alexander City’s parks and recreation director, was longing to restore his ironwork skills from earlier in life at Robinson Iron.
“Ricky Robinson and Scotty Howell really gave me the opportunity to learn this trade on the job. It just gets in your blood,” said Wilson, who started working at Robinson Iron right after high school.
With no initial proficiency in this career path, Wilson eventually became a project manager while simultaneously studying at Central Alabama Community College.
His first trip out of Alabama was to a job in Chicago, which led to another one in New York for seven years. After traveling back and forth from out-of-state jobs to Alexander City, he decided it was time to stay at home after their second child was born.
“The mayor at the time called and asked me about the parks and rec position, and it was a perfect fit since I actually graduated in sports management,” Wilson added.
Returning to his craft, Wilson revived this as hobby initially, which grew into commission work. His son, Thomas, has become drawn to the vocation as well and frequently helps out. The W2 stands for the two Wilsons – Sonny and Thomas.
Items in their wheelhouses range from smaller handrails, doors and windows to larger pieces of furniture, hood vents and countertops.
“We do a little bit of everything using iron, copper, bronze, zinc and stainless,” said Wilson. “We always say, ‘You dream it, we’ll build it.’”
The vast open studio contains industrial tools and space to build all pieces, which Wilson then delivers and installs in customers’ homes.
Along with his day job and coaching junior varsity baseball, Wilson makes time in the evenings to turn on his radio and just build.
Since the couple doesn’t see each other often, Wilson tries to convince Tara to spend the evenings in the studio as well, but she is typically in her adjacent studio all day, every day.
“We do work second shift together sometimes, too. I just love it, and I can’t get enough of it,” said Tara.
Her now-art studio and home to finished work used to be Wilson’s painting room. Six months ago they cleaned up the space, painted the walls, pressure washed the interior and added a bathroom and power.
Last year, what began as a Christmas project for her mother-in-law turned into Tara producing not one but close to 80 painted angels the first season she picked up a paintbrush.
“I didn’t know I could paint. I realized how much I loved it and had such a passion for it after that,” she added.
Acrylic paint, often in softer tones, is Tara’s main medium; however, she has since branched out and will try almost any mixed media with different techniques and textures.
For painting, she uses anything from a brush to her fingers; a palette knife or whatever is lying around. A more unique form of artwork to the area, poured broken glass is another one of Tara’s favorite projects at the moment. By pouring temperate-specific liquid resin over the arranged glass design, the resin hardens to protect the sharp edges and keep the broken pieces in place.
“I tend to lean toward abstract and minimalist mixed media, but I just love to create and see what it does,” said Tara.
She started selling her pieces at local art shows, such as Arti Gras at Russell Crossroads, and hopes to broaden her exposure. Tara said she openly accepts commission work and will even ship pieces across the country.
Wilson’s work is now 95 percent customer calls, but Tara said sometimes she just wants to create what she feels.
For more information about W2 Ironworks or Tara Wilson Art, visit their respective Facebook pages.