William Apelian claims German and Armenian heritage and has always studied history, both personal and global. His Old World Santas reflect his lifelong respect for the places where the real St. Nicholas began and how his ancestors brought their heritage to the New World.
Although Apelian grew up admiring the work of his great uncle Martin, a master woodcarver, he didn’t start his own carving until 1995, when his younger daughter asked him to carve her a cat. From then on he became a serious carver, mainly of Santa figures, but also of ornaments, fireplace mantels, other figures, and architectural pieces.
He uses only traditional hand tools and prefers to repurpose wood (a broken chair slat can become a stag head, for example) or to salvage and season wood from trees that other people might send to the chipper.
A graduate of Lehigh University and a former Marine captain, Apelian lives in South Carolina with his wife, Dawn, and their shop dog, Maggie. He likes nothing better than to be in his shop, surrounded by carving tools and stockpiles of wood, getting lost for hours in creating something “newly old.” He has been a juried member of the Southern Highland Craft Guild since 2004 and does demonstrations and sells his work in Guild galleries.
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