LUCAMA, N.C. (AP) — A self-taught North Carolina artist famed for his whimsical, wind-powered whirligigs has died. Vollis Simpson was 94.

Beth Liles of Joyner's Funeral Home confirmed the death Saturday. Simpson's wife, Jean, was quoted by the Wilson Daily Times ( as saying that her husband died in his sleep Friday.

Simpson is known for creating whirligigs, wind-driven creations that stand as high as 50 feet and are constructed from recycled parts including motor fans and cotton spindles.

Simpson built the contraptions on land near his machine shop in Lucama, about 35 miles east of Raleigh. They've been displayed across the country, including at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.

Last month, the North Carolina House approved a measure making whirligigs the state's official folk art.