Coal Valley man turns spare time, spare parts into art


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Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2013, 5:44 pm
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By Dawn Neuses, dneuses@qconline.com
COAL VALLEY -- Jerry Smith is so well known for his ability to fix small engines that customers drive from Nebraska and Milwaukee to his home-based business in Coal Valley.

Now, the 74-year-old is working at becoming known for something else: his art.

Mr. Smith, who has been welding since he was 12, is using those skills in his free time to make metal sculptures using things such as horseshoes, washers, Chevy engine parts, shovels, silverware and hammers.

His work includes a yard art flower with spoons for petals and forks for leaves; a mosquito with a body made from an old oil can; a wide-mouthed smiling figure fishing; crabs; spiders; a crane; a dachshund made from horseshoes; and a hammer.

Mr. Smith said he saw some similar sculptures in Galesburg, and "I got hooked."

He planned to try his hand at the sculptures this winter but started earlier when his small engine repair business slowed down last summer because of the drought. "The grass was not growing," he said.

"I started monkeying around with it and found it was a lot of fun. It keeps your mind working. I am one who cannot sit down and let the world go by. I have to be doing something," Mr. Smith said.

Some of his sculptures take a half-hour. Others take much longer. The parts and pieces he gets from various sources -- one friend works in a junkyard, and other friends gave him horseshoes and railroad spikes.

He continues to operateJerry's Small Engine, creating art in his spare time."You have to stay active when you get older. This keeps my ideas going. It keeps me young," he said.

Mr. Smith's sculptures range in price from $8 to $44, and he has sold some at Toni's Treasures in Wilton, Iowa. He wants to extend his reach. "Hopefully I will find another place, too," he said.

Until then, he will sell his works out of his home and can be reached at (309) 236-2833.

"It is a lot of fun and keeps me busy."


















 




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  Today is Monday, Sept. 1, the 244th day of 2014. There are 121 days left in the year.

1864 -- 150 years ago: We are informed by J.H. Hull that the reason the street sprinkler was not at work yesterday settling the dust on the streets, was because one of his horses was injured.
1889 -- 125 years ago: Bonnie McGregor, a fleet-footed stallion owned by S.W. Wheelock of this community, covered himself with glory at Lexington, Ky, when he ran a mile in 2:13 1/2. The horse's value was estimated as at least $50,000.
1914 -- 100 years ago: Troops are pouring into Paris to prepare for defense of the city. The German army is reported to be only 60 miles from the capital of France.
1939 -- 75 years ago: The German army has invaded Poland in undeclared warfare. Poland has appealed to Great Britain and France for aid.
1964 -- 50 years ago: Publication of a plant newspaper, the Farmall Works News, has been launched at the Rock Island IHC factory and replaces a managerial newsletter.
1989 -- 25 years ago: Officials predict Monday's Rock Island Labor Parade will be the biggest and best ever. Last minute work continues on floats and costumes for the parade, which steps off a 9:30 a.m.




(More History)