Rural Missouri - March 2012 - (Page 10)

much profit in that hobby!” Now, with all but one child in elementary school, Rachel spends time picking up Osage orange for her ith four sculptures. While she’s lucky to have children, a selection of the wood on the farm, Rachel Rachel only uses the Osage orange Wilson that has been broken by storms and is used to getting interwind. She never cuts a live tree for the rupted at all hours of the pieces she needs. day. But five years ago, it After Rachel has collected hunwas the people stopping dreds of pieces of wood for a project, to stare at her yard, not she simply begins laying the sticks on the kids, who stopped her the ground, as if she were making a from getting much done. stick drawing. What stopped pass“It won’t be a perfect outline, but ersby in their tracks it will be the general size and shape was Rachel’s I want the finished piece to be,” says unique hobby the artist, who averages 30 hours a — taking week on her art. “Then I’ll find legs in sticks and specific bends, shapes and widths for turning the animal.” them into Due to the weight it will have to life-sized bear, the leg wood is usually old Osage horses, bears, orange fence posts. elk and the like. Once the basic form is complete, “It was getting crazy,” she says. she countersinks screws to hold the “We finally had to put them inside. An elk made from Osage orange sticks picked up on the Wilson farm. shape together and either stands the But it was those piece up or hangs it at eye level until people stopping the sculpture is complete and can who really encourstand on its own. After many long aged me to keep hours of work, Rachel either leaves going.” the wood to dry naturally or coats Rachel takes the piece with a finishing spray that Osage orange allows the color of the Osage orange sticks and turns wood to show through. Rachel doesn’t them into beautihave any idea how many pieces of ful wood sculpOsage orange a sculpture contains. “I tures, giving her a start with an enormous pile and end teacher John Fitzgibbons who inspired distinct niche in Once the metal fencing alternative up with nothing left,” she says. her to pursue a career in art. Rachel the world of art. The 5-foot-tall artist came along, most people starting cutThe artist says her biggest challenge is gaining big attention for her artting the Osage orange trees down and was awarded the Thomas Hart Benton isn’t finding sticks. Instead, it’s workScholarship from Missouri Southern work these days. using them only as fence posts. ing on larger pieces, such as a lifeState University, but after a couple of The artist attributes her father’s A self-described former city girl, sized moose, which take more hands years, she decided to put her art studcareer in construction — along with the Webb City native once dreamed — and more muscle — to complete. ies on hold so she could shop class in high school — for her of working in New York “The huge antlers had to be built start a family. interest and ability to work with City as an artist. But on the ground, then lifted up over the When the children wood. Her first project was a small after nearly a decade moose to attach,” Rachel says of her were younger, Rachel horse that looked as if it was runof farm living, she moose sculpture. “My husband had says she would find ning in the wind. “I hadn’t decided can’t see herself creatWatch a video showing to stand nose to nose with the moose ways to be creative with on any specific wood to use, so it was ing her art any place more of Rachel’s work in the while I lined up the antlers, drilled food or decorating to made of a hodgepodge of elm, spruce, other than the farm online edition at holes and attached them to the body.” appease her artistic side. walnut and sycamore sticks,” says where she lives with Rachel quickly adds that antlers are Eventually, she tried oil the 32-year-old artist. “Eventually, her family. also difficult because to make them painting as an outlet. the weaker woods led to the pony’s While you might find a bear, look natural, she needs sticks with “I would paint in the kitchen and demise and, unfortunately, it’s no longiraffe or big cat among her work, just the right points. “There are a lot the cats would track paint around the ger standing. most of Rachel’s creations are equine of twisted sticks out there, but none house and ruin a few pillows. Then The Barton County Electric Coopin nature. “The first gift my husband that are antler ready,” says Rachel. “So I’d take my paintings, spend a few erative member says she decided to ever gave me was a horse, so that’s I have to decide if I’m going to leave hundred dollars framing them, come continue making the wood sculptures always been a special inspiration to them open to artistic interpretation home, wrap them up and put them in but from a more durable wood selecme,” she says. or make them look like the real thing the closet,” says Rachel, smiling. “Not tion the next time. In high school, it was Rachel’s art with lots of detail.” Rachel’s husband, Kyle, a When searching for Osage sixth-generation farmer, serves orange, Rachel not only looks as her sounding board, art for pieces to frame her sculphauler and honest supporter. ture but also pieces that will “Kyle and his dad have bring the animal to life. been making fence posts “Usually, it’s something like from Osage orange for years, a knot or a crook in a branch so he said, ‘You know, they that seems to say, ‘This is what last forever in the ground, so I am. Make me into . . . ,’” says you should be able to make a the artist. One such recent sculpture that would last forknot became the eye of a tall, ever, too.’ That’s why I began gentle giraffe. The piece sold using only Osage orange for for $5,000. my work,” Rachel says. Rachel’s sculptures range Osage orange, also called from 24 inches and up and hedge-apple or bois d’arc, is cost $800 to $25,000. To help one of the hardest woods in keep shipping fees down for the United States. It’s also natbuyers, Rachel and Kyle often urally insect and rot resistant, take mini-vacations across the making it a perfect choice for United States and Canada to Rachel’s sculptures. deliver the pieces. The thorny, often gnarled, While Rachel’s creations trees were actually grown as can be purchased at several The cattle are used to Rachel meandering around their pastures and paths as she searches for just the hedgerows years before the Missouri galleries, her work right sticks for her wood sculpture projects. invention of barbed wire. W by Heather Berry Rachel Wilson turns sticks into unique wood sculptures 10 WWW.RURALMISSOURI.COOP http://WWW.RURALMISSOURI.COOP

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - March 2012

Rural Missouri - March 2012
Stickin’ to it
Out of the Way Eats
Spending to save
Just vault
Guarding the honeybee
Hearth and Home
Callaway’s kingdom dinner
News Briefs
Around Missouri
The comical curator

Rural Missouri - March 2012