Rural Missouri - January 2014 - 12

Victoria Weaver turns unusual items into beautiful vessels. Her pieces have brought from $900 to $1,800 at art galleries.

Sedalia artist Victoria Weaver turns natural materials into intriguing art
by Heather Berry
hberry@ruralmissouri.coop

do people get color onto skin? Ah,
tattoos!"
So she hung out at tattoo parlors in
t takes a lot of guts to do what Victoria Weaver
Arizona while earning her master of fine
*
arts degree in college. While the tattoo
does. As the curator of education for the Daum
Sedalia
Museum of Contemporary Art in Sedalia, she
crowd didn't readily warm up to Victoria
is surrounded by sculptures. Her focus on art
and her artistic goals, eventually the artdoesn't end when she heads home from work. Victoists taught her a few tips. She used what
ria switches gears, dons her smock and gets down and she learned to tattoo designs onto her
hide lampshades.
dirty with her own unique craft.
Victoria also became friends with a group of
To put it bluntly, Victoria makes art from hog
Basque shepherds and began buying sheep hides to
intestines. To state it more politely, she is a fiber
work with, since they were much lighter than cow
artist, taking what is commonly used as sausage cashides.
ing and recycling it into beautiful vessels of various
It was a day in 1982, however, that changed Victoshapes and sizes.
ria's path.
"I'm intrigued by how translucent the gut is once
"Two women fiber artists held a show of their
it's dried. It's a beautiful parchment," says Victoria,
art," recalls Victoria. "They had taken single layers
who earned a fine arts degree from Northwest Misof gut, layered them on fragments of old bottles
souri State University in 1975. "And what once had
and sprayed the pieces with iridescent paint. With
only one life now can leave a lasting impression for
the gallery dark and the lights on each piece, they
years to come."
looked like thin pieces of colorful glass. It was
Victoria originally made sculptures with lamisimply breathtaking."
nated wood. She also worked with metal and
The artists held a workshop, which she
animal hides.
attended, and that was that.
But finding
"I've been working with
the perfect
gut ever since," she says.
components
If you see the Sedalia
with which to
native picking up vases
work has taken the
and other odd-shaped
artist years.
glass or metal objects
"I started working with
at garage sales, it's
leather. I'd soak a half of
likely she'll soon turn
a hide in the bathtub, but
them into forms for her
it was really heavy, physical
casing art.
work," says the petite 5-foot"The official name for
2-inch woman. "I'd wrestle the
what I do is called 'casting over
hide around, cut it with utility
a form,'" she says.
knives, poke holes in it, stitch it back
To make a piece, she buys containers
together around a form of some sort, fill
of hog intestines, then rinses the brine
it with sand and let it dry. It was really
A gut teapot
off and slices the gut lengthwise, giving
exhausting work."
with dried seed
her square sheets with which to work.
Then Victoria decided she wanted to
pods, sticks
Victoria places the gut in a container
add color to her work and thought, "How
and bark.

I

12

WWW.RURALMISSOURI.COOP

of water and, one by one, she places a layer over
the form she's prepared.
After she casts four to five layers over the
form, Victoria lets the piece dry completely,
which takes several days. The process is
similar to paper maché.
Once the vessel is dry, the piece is
coated with an ultraviolet resin and a
light wax to protect it from the humidity.
She strategically removes the hardened
shape from the form, which sometimes means cutting it in half. Then Victoria begins using a rotary
tool to drill holes around the edges of the dried casing and begins sewing everything from pieces of
crochet or torn cheesecloth and even seed pods back
onto the piece, giving it character. Legs of a bowl
might be pieces of shed antlers or branches that have
fallen from a tree. Tiny seeds might even be used
between layers of casing as she works.
"While working with gut isn't well known to
many people, it does have historic ties," adds Victoria. "Inuit women used to inflate the intestines of
whatever they ate - sea lions or whales - and let
them dry. That gave them flat shapes to work with to
make hoods, parkas and even covers to go over their
kayaks, because it would be waterproof when dried."
Sedalia resident Nina Freed owns two of Victoria's
works and loves their luminescent quality.
"Each piece offers a mysterious beauty," says Nina.
"Once you see her work, it's easy to get past what the
art is made of and see the beauty it offers."
One of Victoria's pieces brought $2,800 at a gallery
fundraiser, but most average $900 to $1,800 at shows.
She is happy to take commissions, too.
"I look at what I do as sort of recycling things that
were going to be nature's leftovers in most cases,"
says Victoria, who adds she's made about 400 pieces
over the years.
"Casing, seed pods, leaves, branches, bones - it's
giving new life to each piece."
You may contact Victoria Weaver via email at
vkinshella@gmail.com or at 660-281-2286.


http://WWW.RURALMISSOURI.COOP

Rural Missouri - January 2014

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - January 2014

Rural Missouri - January 2014
Contents
Comments
Columns
Healing on horses
Gut instinct
Out of the Way Eats
Outdoors
For the birds
Missouri Snapshots
Hearth and Home
The company behind the meter
Around Missouri
Marketplace
Neighbors
Just4Kids
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - Intro
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - Rural Missouri - January 2014
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - Cover2
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - Contents
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - Comments
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - Columns
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - 6
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - 7
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - Healing on horses
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - 9
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - 10
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - 11
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - Gut instinct
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - 13
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - Out of the Way Eats
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - 15
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - For the birds
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - 17
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - 18
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - Missouri Snapshots
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - 20
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - 21
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - 22
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - 23
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - Hearth and Home
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - 25
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - 26
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - 27
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - The company behind the meter
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - 29
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - Around Missouri
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - 31
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - 32
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - 33
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - Marketplace
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - 35
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - Neighbors
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - 37
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - Just4Kids
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - Cover3
Rural Missouri - January 2014 - Cover4
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