library exhibit features
Smith familys unique creations
BEDFORD, Ky. (September 2006) Creating beautiful pieces
of fine artwork is hard enough by itself, but making the tools to create
the works is a feat all its own. One Trimble County, Ky., man, Gus Smith,
has been doing just that for many years. His artwork, along with artwork
from the other talented members of his family, is currently on display
at the Trimble County Public Library in Bedford. The opening reception
for the Smith family exhibit was held Aug. 22. The exhibit will run
through at least September at the library.
by Kim Aldridge
Smith and his four children have a
variety of items on display at the
Trimble County Public Library.
This is truly a unique exhibit that everyone should
come to see, said Vickie Eldridge, president of the Trimble County
Arts Council. The council tries to set up an exhibit each month at the
library, but because this one is so unique, it will be staying for awhile,
Smith, 70, and a retired tobacco farmer, has been turning and carving
wood for more than 50 years. His beautiful pieces of work on display
include unique bowls and teacups with hand-carved spoons made out of
rare spaulted maple found on his farm. What is amazing is that Smith
made the lathe, carving knives and other tools he uses for his creations.
He said he has always been creative, and he thinks he was just born
with the ability. I was always a homebody when I was a kid, and
when everyone else went to town, I would stay behind. I always wanted
them to bring me some nails and a tool, instead of the usual candy others
would ask for.
He said he just looks at equipment and his mind starts turning and thinking
about how it is made and how he can copy it. I was just a poor
farmer and had to make much of the tools I needed.
Apparently, he is known around Trimble County for his amazing ability
to create machinery and equipment. About 32 years ago, Smith made his
own tractor that is known as the Gustor tractor. His daughter,
Terri, said he would simply go to the parts stores look at the ones
he needed and then go home and make them.
He also made his first lathe, which runs from the power take-off on
the tractor. Smith said he had never turned wood before that and had
no training; it was just something he wanted to do so he figured out
how to make the lathe. I made the lathe by trial and error.
Over the years, he experimented with various wood and techniques until
he learned how best to create his beautiful pieces. He said he messed
up on the choice of wood at first until he learned how to select the
right type and get it dried and cured properly.
Smith also hand-made the carving knives he uses for his hand-carved
items. He said he went to a fancy knife show once in Louisville, Ky.,
but they were asking too much money for their knives, so he went home
and made his own.
It appears as though Smith passed that creativity down to his children
as well. Each of his four children has been gifted with creative talent,
and some of their works are on display in the exhibit as well.
Mom and Dad didnt place a lot of emphasis on being creative.
We just all took it for granted that was how things were done,
Terri Smith said.
She said that, to them, making things just seemed like the logical
and right thing to do. The family didnt realize that others
are not as creative.
Terri works with ceramics, writes poetry and paints special boxes. Examples
of her work are on display in the exhibit. Her sister, Karen, works
with acrylics and watercolors to create amazing modern art paintings.
Karen also makes jewelry, and her paintings and jewelry are included
in the exhibit.
Brother, Steve, refurbishes antique horse drawn farm equipment, and
pictures of his work are included in the show. He is also writing a
book on the history of Trimble County.
Tim, the youngest sibling, is also a woodturner, and some of his work,
which differs from the type that Gus creates, is at the library.
Mabel, wife and mother, is also creative. She has garnered some attention
throughout Trimble County as a wonderful quilter. Some of her eye-catching
quilts and handmade jackets are on display.
The actual exhibit at the library is unusual in that it is a red bud
tree with beans that hang off of it. Various items that the Smith family
has created also hang from it. Along one wall of the library are also
more artwork and creations from the family, including crocheted creations
by Mabel and framed poetry by Terri.
Back to September 2006