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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