Rural Missouri - December 2012 - (Page 20)

photo courtesy of Bill Brackett Above: Special tooling lets Bill emphasize the texture in leaf forms such as these elephant ears. Below: Daffodils like this one measure 17 inches across and are attached to stems ranging from 4 feet to 7 feet tall. hose who purchase Bill Brackett’s artwork probably don’t see past the beauty he has wrought in utilitarian steel. They’ll never know the many mathematical calculations Bill did in his home near Cole Camp long before his tools ever touched the sheet of metal. But behind every giant daffodil, dahlia or day lily, there’s a week or more of mental effort that will determine the piece’s final shape. “I have to admit, I love math,” says Bill, who is a member of Co-Mo Electric Cooperative. “To me it’s recreation. It’s what I do at night.” Seeing Bill’s work up close is the only way to truly appreciate it. Under his hands, cold steel takes on a colossal size nature never considered. “Outrageous” is how the artist describes his work. “The first show I did, the guy who ran it and his assistant were standing in front of my booth with their mouths wide open,” Bill recalls. “I said, ‘What’s wrong?’ They said, ‘We thought you made little tiny flowers.’ Back then my work was really crude, but it was still outrageous.” Picture flowers on steroids, with petals arranged in a nearly 2-foot T by Jim McCarty Beauty from m diameter, towering on 4- to 7-foot stems. These would be the stuff of “Little Shop of Horrors” if they weren’t so realistic. “He has a truly unique voice,” says Diana Moxon, executive director of the Columbia Art League. “I don’t see anyone doing what he is doing. He really has mastered his technique, so his work is very professionally presented. And it’s endlessly popular. People just really can’t get enough of his work. He can’t keep up with the demand at festivals in the summer. I think that speaks volumes about how well his work is accepted.” Humbled by his success, Bill can’t believe the acceptance he has found in the art world. “My customers really speak things that I don’t think of,” the 59-year-old artist says. “One man came into my booth at a show in Minneapolis and told me my work is perfect because it’s a feminine form in a masculine material.” Bill came upon the art form quite by accident. With no formal training as an artist, he was searching for a medium after five years spent wandering the country in a van. A frequent visitor to Internet metalworking forums, Bill was online one night when he was asked to describe his work. “Well, I don’t do anything yet,” was the reply. “But when I do, it will probably look like a cross between a lady’s earring and a car fender. When you look at what I do now . . . darn near!” Bill’s first floral piece was a steel rose patterned after one he saw on the Internet. “I had 1/2-inch tubing, and I thought if a rose had a 1/2-inch stem, how big would it be? I figured 14 inches. So I made a 14-inch rose.” He had no tools to work with and little cash to purchase them. Undaunted, he went to the Salvation Army store in Sedalia and asked to see their selection of purses. While the workers giggled at the idea of a grown man buying a purse, Bill selected a smooth leather one. Filled with sand, it provided the malleable form Bill needed to shape parts. He also needed a hammer, but the kind he wanted cost more than $100. So he made that, too, and did it so well that the tool is still in use eight years later. Most of Bill’s tools are either homemade or have seen Cole Camp’s Bill Brackett creates fem 8 WWW.RURALMISSOURI.COOP

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

Rural Missouri - December 2012
Table of Contents
Faith in fruitcakes
Best of rural Missouri
Pursuing dreams
Out of the Way Eats
Beauty from math and metal
Spreading the Masonic message
Hearth and Home
Rooted in Missouri
Around Missouri

Rural Missouri - December 2012