Oh my goodness I’ve discovered a new (old) material that I’m super excited about! The idea to use barbwire in the new reliquary series occurred to me many months ago. The collection began with a few random strands plucked from somewhere and a ditched coil I stumbled upon at a truck stop. They’ve been stashed outside the studio waiting... Alas – last week I began working with the stuff. I fell in love with the rich rusted patina of a particular big-barbed strand - perfect for this sculpture. The coil of wire wasn’t the same as the strand; a search began.
One strategic (or lucky) phone call to my buddy Vern led to some hundred-year-old barbwire that had been recently clipped for a project to allow fence friendly passageways for antelope.
I love the place and purpose behind this wire and could only hope that the color and texture would work for the sculpture. Vern said it was nearly black from rust. I'd have scooted to the old ranch pronto but had some "momma world" things to do thus it was late afternoon before I rolled up to the stone house along the Yellowstone River where the wire snarled and sprang maliciously above the dry grass.
Next time I go to gather barbwire I won’t likely be wearing a new short flowery summer dress. I will pack Kleins. Luckily I had a friend along. We made due with my Leatherman and a screwdriver. Jeffery was using my only pair of leather gloves so he got the job wrestling the wire into coils as I tweaked the old tacks and pulled the strands apart from the twisted wire supports. We loaded several coils into my truck after an hour of barbwire wrangling then drove a few more miles to the Boiling River for a hot springs soak followed by buffalo burgers at sunset.
I wasn't convinced the wire would work at first since the barbs were much smaller than those on the strand I initially thought perfect for this sculpture. The patina was darker without the warmth but I grew to like the cool deep dark rust. Installation into the niche was a tedious project that took two of us several days to accomplish. More than 160 feet of wire was cajoled into place; the niche transformed.
The meanings suggested by the barbwire is as layered and rich as the rust. The possibilities of the new medium sprout like weeds in my mind– tenacious but tantalizing. The o'l barbs have me hooked.