ATHENS, Texas—Terry Jones of Jewett turns trash into treasure—metal sculptures that look like prehistoric fish despite being made of old saw blades, meat grinders, car parts and anything else that strikes his fancy.
“A piece is only as good as the quality of the junk that’s in it,” Jones said. But instead of the finished pieces looking like the junk they’re made of, they resemble something from a fishy horror movie—gaping jaws, saw-toothed fins and scissor-like tails.
Jones’ whimsical folk art will be featured at an art show and sale Dec. 4-11 at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center here. Jones said most of his customers so far have come from the Austin area.
In contrast to the metal sculptures, the show will also feature botanical art by Bruce Lyndon Cunningham of Nacogdoches and outdoor-themed paintings by several Athens-area artists. Artists will donate a portion of each sale to the building fund for a new education center at TFFC. Jones and other artists will be at TFFC for the opening of the show on Dec. 4.
Jones credits his antique business to an eye for good junk and to friends for supplying him with quality raw materials. “I find a lot of stuff at auctions and estate sales,” he said. “I try to use as many antique tools as possible in my sculptures. Once I get an idea for a piece, I go looking for the parts to make it. One small piece I made recently took four weeks to build because I did not have what I wanted. So I just let it sit until I found the eyes—as soon as I saw them, I knew where they needed to go, and I finished the piece.”
That sculpture, which features gears from an automobile transmission for the eyes and a section of a large sawmill blade as the dorsal fin, will be part of the December show.
Jones’ fishy figures attract a lot of attention at the antique shop and bait store he and wife Carla operate in downtown Jewett. “The look on people’s faces when they see a piece is the real reward,” he said. “They are trying to figure out what all the pieces are and where they came from.”
The sculptures go together in Jones’ head first. Then he welds them together in the parking lot of the store. “Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night with pieces going together in my head,” he said. “The hard part is finding the mouth. That’s the focal point of a fish. You have to start with the mouth and build from there, because the mouth determines how big the rest of the fish will be.” The pieces are sanded clean, welded together and coated with lacquer to make them weatherproof.
Jones, 45, has no formal art training but has always liked to draw. He acquired his welding skills working as an ironworker. He says using one person’s junk to create another person’s treasure requires no special training: “It just boils down to having a good imagination,” he said.
For more information call (903) 676-2277. – Lake Mohave
– Lake Mohave