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Omaha Magazine

Gretna's Twisted Timber

Aug 29, 2022 03:44PM ● By Katy Spratte Joyce
erin haley in her omaha workshop

Photo by Bill Sitzmann

It all started with a special Father’s Day present.

“I remember, exactly, the first thing I ever made,” Erin Haley remembered fondly. When she was 5, she crafted a footstool to gift her dad for his favorite chair, made with leftover wood, her dad’s tools, and some youthful enthusiasm. More projects followed.

That childhood hobby has turned into a side hustle for Haley, as well as a creative outlet for this stay-at-home mother of six from Gretna.   

  “I got into woodworking by watching my dad work. He was a carpenter, so I’d watch him in his shop when I was young. He would give me scrap pieces of wood and some nails, and I would create things,” she shared. 

Photo by Bill Sitzmann

In high school, Haley honed her woodworking skills, enrolling in construction classes. She further expanded her techniques working with various woods through the years. She counts walnut, olive, and cherry among her favorites. “They are all beautiful...lots of character,” she said.

A few years ago, a friend in the local makers community opened her eyes to working with other materials, including epoxy resins.

“The woodworking part I learned mainly from my dad, but a good friend of mine—Kiliki Wiggins, owner of KiWiki Design—taught me most of what I know about epoxy art,” Haley said. “She [took] me in under her wing and shared her secrets.

Photo by Bill Sitzmann

 “The hardest working within the time frame epoxy allows,” she explained. “Some types allow you 45 minutes of work time, while others only allow 15 minutes [before it sets]. Making the different colors and pouring is the fun part!”

Haley makes all of her pieces at her Gretna home. Her garage houses a CNC machine, and a room indoors is devoted to epoxy work (so fumes and mess are contained). She’s created everything from Husker-themed cutting boards and Disney-themed lamps for kids’ rooms, to kitchen and bar countertops and coffee tables, to abstract wall art and beyond. 

She said about 60% of her work is custom. The most popular item requested is a wedding gift charcuterie board that says a couple’s last name and the year established. 

Roughly two years ago, the woodworker began selling on Facebook Marketplace under the moniker Twisted Timber. These days, the artist’s works can be seen at metro art and craft shows (the bi-annual Westside High School Craft Fair is a favorite), as well as Turtle Creek Gallery in Ashland, Nebraska. 

Turtle Creek’s proprietor, Steve Nabity, said upon meeting Haley and seeing photos of her work, he was immediately struck by her talent. “What she showed me was a different style than anything else here in the gallery, and I invited her to bring some pieces and we would display them.” 

Nabity said Haley’s creations have been stocked since late April 2022 and have drawn a lot of interest from customers. With stiff competition (the gallery features works by 42 artists, with well over 1,000 pieces on display), the fact that her work is getting noticed is high praise and very promising. 

Photo by Bill Sitzmann

Haley enjoys that her children have inherited her affinity for creative endeavors with wood.

“My older three kids all took wood class in high school. I have their projects all around the house,” she said. “And my three younger kids made personal Lego tables during COVID [lockdown] with scrap pieces of wood laying around. They had fun learning how to cut, sand, stain, and use a nail gun to put them together.”

It seems another generation of woodworkers is in the making. 

Follow Twisted Timber (Gretna, NE) on Facebook for more info and photos. 

This article originally appeared in the September 2022 issue of Omaha Home magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.  

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