Travel with Bennett-Watt and learn about the creation of metal sculptures in Colfax, Illinois.
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Metal Sculptures in Colfax Illinois
Male: Most of Illinois outside Chicago is real farming country. In mid summer corn and soybeans reach across the flat prairies and a park of green. What you don’t expect to find here is sea burst?
Male2: Then they came along, he look everything and he smiled and he said, “You know you made iron smile.” And we look at that way, I say I work with metal but sometimes people smile. They said no you made iron smile, so about that was more of the best powerful books that I have ever had.
Male: Bob Kempston art make merely everyone smile.
Male3: Where I told people, metal is very feisty, you can bend it, you can do by anything. It is very fascinating, years ago a man told me and he says “you do silverwares?” What do you mean he says “Ugly but strong.”
It started out many of years ago using farm equipment as much as possible. And we do have a lot of pieces that are don’t we found out. Because farmer’s, farming was changing then this was back in the late 76’ when I started the sculpture. And so I had access being out here in the farming community and went to that direction and to do the more exotic animals. We’ve done giraffes up to 17 feet tall that required a lot of new steel so I started buying new steel once in a while I can find some good used steels, I make one more weld here.
We have a lot of ideas in different positions of the virgin animals from our costumers. They want certain piece in certain position and we do like the dog, the sitting dog was by far the most popular. We have to use spring tail, head moves, head swivels it goes up and down. And we do standing dogs, lying dogs, crouching dogs, paying dogs that were upright where their front legs out like this. And then a costumer Marilyn wanted one with this leg up so we start doing those then. And lately worked out quite good but here is some fox bodies, this was an earlier fox and had the heads on top like this and I wasn’t happy with it, so then the next foxes we made, we took the head down here. Made a u-shape bent a U-shape rod so they would swivel this way so I'm in the process of converting these three older ones into the shorter ones, they look more fox like.
We started doing the birds. We got into more exotic birds, last year we came up with a monkey idea. And the hanging monkey is very popular. It’s probably the most popular. We do a standing monkey and then down on a horse, monkeys here and there. All the animals are more fun to do than others. We’ve done maybe 70 or 80 different animals, some of them probably white, some of them don’t. John Trabias down in the Water Park Zoo contacted me. We donated to their gala, their fund raiser every year. So he was asking me to put some pieces on our lawn, so he sent a truck with a trailer couple of men out and they must have probably 50 or 60 pieces and that’s worked out real good because like every school kid in Central Illinois at one point goes through the zebra.
That is probably our star piece is the Llamas of there is about 220 feet of chain in that Llama. I get the most pleasure I think is most fabrication is when somebody comes along and they had purchased a piece maybe 15, 20 years ago. And they say “I just I love it” and everytime I walk by it makes me smile. That is a real good feeling.
It is hard work but its fun work, we all have to work and if you can work having from that is where all is about. Life should be more fun in anyway. It’s out here and I don’t have to feed it and I don’t have to paint it, it is here.