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MAY 2013:  Maple Mirror

This was a piece I made and donated to an auction to benefit our local Chambers of Commerce.  (The sculpture brought the charity $650.00 at the auction). Our local Chamber of Commerce was in the midst of a collaboration with tourism officials just across the Canadian border in Quebec. About 20 miles from our town. I felt that I needed to create a piece that represented Vermont well, so naturally I chose “Sugaring” which is what we Vermonters call the process of making Maple Syrup. This was not as complex as most of my sculptures; I used the plasma cutter for cutting out the leaves and the tree. Then, welded them together and then bolted the whole metal frame to a mirror I had found at a yard sale. 

MARCH 2013:  Great Blue Heron

This sculpture brought in $1,300.00 at an auction to benefit The Make-A-Wish Foundation.  The Great Blue Heron was inspired by the marvelous enthusiasm that people showed for my sculpture at the  2011 event for Make-A-Wish when my very first small donated piece (The Scrap Owl) was purchased for $350 (by the mother of a child who had been a Make-A-Wish recipient).

For the Heron, I was moved to create something that represented the spirit of Make-A-Wish, which I consider awe-inspiring. If you’ve ever had the pleasure of watching a Great Blue Heron, you know how this creature’s grace, patience, and beauty remind us of the wonder possible in every moment.

As with all my sculptures, I always start with one piece of metal that is quintessentially perfect for one part of the animal’s body. In this case, it was the head and beak which is made from half of a pickaxe that I had been saving for just such an occasion. Then it was up to me to find all the other parts that would match the scale set by that initial piece. If you look at my heron closely, you will recognize many common items: The wing supports are lawnmower blades. The back is a shovel.  The body is supported by garden tiller tines. The base is a truck tire rim. The lower jaw is half of a large caliper. The Fish’s body is the shaft of the shovel. Etc..etc.. !

JUNE 2013:  Owl on Doorknob Nest

 The “Owl on Doorknob Nest” is a little sculpture that I made as a gift to our high school principal  – Dennis Hill – for allowing me go through high school on a personal learning path that I proposed to him before my freshman year. (To learn more about all that, you can look at my other website – that is my Academic Portfolio – at this link: beyondthextramile.com ). Mr. Hill was leaving our school and I wasn’t quite sure that anyone thanked him properly for his MANY years of service to the BFA school community. He had been a student at BFA himself, then for many years he was the vice-principal in charge of discipline. He was AMAZING at that job, with a legendary special knack for reaching kids who were difficult rascals. I thought that even though Mr. Hill was leaving BFA (as one of the many casualties from our failed Superintendent of Schools)  SOMEONE had to thank him for his great, long body of work on our behalf.  The neat thing about this sculpture is that it is made from the doorknobs of BFA, before they were all changed out to comply with new accessible lever-type handles. I was able to salvage about 200 of those knobs from the basement of the school before they were taken to be scrapped.  I think the doorknobs represent possibility – one door closes and another door opens – and the many doors that open to various kinds of knowledge and insight. And even more special is the thought that his very hands could have opened those doorknobs as a teenager way back when. Cool!… Thank you Mr. Hill. You changed the entire trajectory of my life, and I promise to improve the trajectory of many others!

JULY 2013:  Skiing Rat

I donated this fun smaller piece to a fundraiser for our local homeless shelter and it brought the organization $430. The event was for a Comedy night and charity auction, so I wanted to have a sense of humor inherent in the piece.  I originally envisioned this creature to be a skiing dog, but fortunately (I TOTALLY believe in what my mother calls “Happy Accidents”) it looked to everyone that it became a skiing rat or mouse. Many people seemed to like it though... so yeah! This piece started with a hard look at some lawn mower blades lying on the ground in such a way that they looked like skis. That set the scale of the piece and I was off and running!

2013 AUGUST: Glass Bird 

My challenge with this sculpture was to find a perfect subject for a venture into mixed media – particularly colored glass. The piece of scrap metal that forms the bird’s perching stand is something that we had been saving for just such an occasion. All that was left to do was let my mind go wild with possibilities for a magnificent feathered friend!

As with all my sculptures, this one started with a few key pieces of scrap metal that just “told me” what they needed to become:  I started with that piece of scrap that was just screaming to be a bird’s beak and then that determined the scale of the rest of the piece. The rest is almost all odds and ends of glass and metal that I have collected at yard sales, just waiting for a “mixed media mood” to come over me.

2013 SEPTEMBER:  Dancing Crane

As with all my sculptures, this one started with a few key pieces of scrap metal that just “told me” what they needed to become: The profile of the Saw (that is the head) determined the emotion of the bird. The well pump handle and mechanism (that forms the neck and body) determined the scale of the piece, and the pitch forks (that make the feet) inspired my thoughts on the movement I wanted to communicate. After I had those quintessential elements, I went to my scrap metal supplies and found the rest!

2013 SEPTEMBER:  Caddisfly

 The “Caddisfly” sculpture was born when I found the two beautiful curling pieces of metal in a cow pasture. They are the tines from an old hey rake. I loved their arc and symmetry, and wanted to make something worthy of their state. In case you’ve never heard of a Caddisfly, it is a remarkable bug that is essential to the life and health of most streams that run swift and clear, and contain rainbow trout. The Caddisfly looks a lot like my rendering here, but the larva is the real start of its life’s journey. The insects mid-life stage is a worm that lives in streams and ponds and creates it’s own shelter/camouflage by sticking together tiny stones and flotsam from the bottom. They create something that looks like a little armored cocoon, with and opening at one end for their head and legs to poke out of when danger is not around. I loved making this homage to a little known natural wonder.

2013 OCTOBER:  Toil and Talent Turkey

I donated my “Toil and TalentTurkey”  to the town of Fairfield as a part of its 250th anniversary celebration. It is made almost 100% from tools or scrap metal that represents well over 100 different kinds of back breaking and skilled work that people would have had to do to build our community of Fairfield, Vermont, from its inception in 1763. When you pause to think of the variety of labor and expertise that it takes to build and strengthen a community over 250 years, it is mind boggling.  This sculpture started one day when a retired local farmer saw me at our local bakery –  Chester's –  and gave me a huge piece of scrap that was the “tongue”/ hook from the back of a dump truck. I was thinking of making a turkey some time, but there are a few parts that have to be just right for that particular bird and the neck is one of them.   I knew exactly what to do with the rest of that part of the sculpture after I had that piece in my hand.  This sculpture is now welded permanently to the base of a large public piece I made to function as Fairfield’s town message board on Rt. 36 outside the town hall.

2013 DECEMBER: Squirrel & Turtle dove, and a Partridge in a Pear Tree

I made this for a Christmas Tree Festival in our town where people donate decorated Christmas trees and then at a dinner/dance event, they auction off the various trees. It brought in $1,350.00 during the auction, which benefited our local Food Shelf. My tree had a cute partridge on tip toe, hovering joyfully on the top of the tree. The limbs of the tree were made of pieces of scrap metal I had around my shop, leftovers from cuts I’d made all through the previous year. (This made it REALLY curious to look at! As if you should know what some of the cuts were!) Perched on a couple or the branches were a fluffy doves and in the middle of the tree (not well seen in this photo) was a big squirrel eating an acorn.  Most of the donated trees are artificial Christmas Trees, traditionally decorated with a theme. My tree was unusual, to say the least, and it was a big hit. The couple who won it in the bidding, put the tree just outside their front door – year round –  in the middle of their rock garden, and it looks great!