The Raw Materials

My current body of work involves using mixed media on rusted metal and found objects. I’ve been inspired to incorporate the things I find on our farm into my art. We recently cleared off the scrap metal and old equipment from the original homestead farm quarter. There was an old barn, a few out buildings, and an incredible amount of antique and broken farm machinery. We hauled it all to the scrap pile on the farm that we occupy now, with the intention to go through it one more time and eventually sell most of it for scrap metal.

part of the scrap pile at our farm

There were rakes, seed planters, tillers, plows, wheels, a bit of everything from different decades. As much as I enjoyed sorting through these old treasures, I had my eye out for large flat rusted pieces of metal, which I found in abundance. The old barn had been sided with sheets that were originally oil drums that were cut and flattened. There were several access panels from old combines and machines, and pieces of windmills. I was fascinated with each thing I found, wondering about it's history. Who used it? What was life like then?

Not much was thrown away on either farm. What wasn’t re-purposed was dumped over the side of a ravine, and there are a couple of these dumps on the properites. Sheets of half-buried metal from roofs and old farm equipment abound, each in a different state of rust and decay. I’ve found some old metal that was probably used as a ceiling in the original farmhouse, with the square designs pressed in relief and most of the paint gone.

one of several loads of 'treasure'

The next step was to choose a few panels of metal and take them to the shop in town. Alec has a big metal and machine shop, so I have every tool I need at my disposal for working with this stuff. I used the power washer to clean the dirt and goo off, I then took a sledgehammer and flattened them out as much as possible. Finally, I cut rough edges off and cut the pieces into rectangles and squares, trying to leave some rusted edges and leaving the personality of the metal intact.

power-washing the metal

flattening the metal with a sledgehammer

cutting machine in the metal shop

I really have no idea what I will do with each one piece. I just know it's at the beginning of the next stage of its journey after the long years laying out in the elements.