By John Speer, Editor
Art From The Farm
103 East High, Toledo
Hours Mon-Fri 9:30 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Also open weekends
and by appointment
(“When the flag is flying, we’re here”)
“Up until now, I was out in the barn, under a tree or in my mother-in-law’s basement,” Vicki Ferriss said last week from her new studio at 103 East High in downtown Toledo. Recognized for her unique art work fashioned from what she calls “experienced barb wire,” Vicki and her husband, Roger
Ferriss, opened their Art From The Farm Studio last week.
IFT photos by Hannah
Iowa Farmer Today
Barbed-wire creations help keep farm rolling
Vicki and Roger Ferriss attend were scheduled to attend 42 shows in the
Midwest where they sell Vicki's barbed wire creations. One of Vicki's
creations, a barb wire chair, makes a great decoration for the garden.
Some of her most popular works are baskets, welcome signs and flowers
shaped in barbed wire.
Click on photo at left to read full article or
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Vicki Jo Interview
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HTML version of article printed in December Issue
Vicki Ferriss discovered she had a knack for turning pieces of barbed wire from her Toledo farm into works of art. With her husband Roger, she's turned that skill into a business selling barbed wire art all around the Midwest.
THEY DISPLAYED THEIR WIRY
wares at a farmers' market in Waterloo years ago and discovered that people fancied the fencing material and the things that Vicki could do with it.
Soon, they added more shows and markets.
"We had always been looking for another way to earn supplemental income for the farm," admits Roger. "And then, six months into doing this, we realized that that's just what we were doing."
With the help of their 18-year-old son who assists with the chores and livestock on the farm, the Ferrisses have become familiar faces on the art and craft show circuit. "Our son was 12 when we started this," marvels Vicki. "It's a great feeling to know that this art business is going to help support the farm and keep him working with us."
In addition to making money, Vicki's barbed beauties are
also earning accolades. In 2004, her "Poky Pig"
earned first place in the sculpture division and second in
best in show at the Pigcasso art competition held during the
World Pork Expo. The following year, the best in show was
bestowed to her "Only Prickly on the Outside"
As if her medium wasn't unique enough, Vicki's ability is
just as admirable as she's had no formal training.
"She actually has a degree in psychology comments
Roger, a hint of teasing rising in his words. "So we
joke about what working with barbed wire can possibly
VICKI IS CONSTANTLY REINVENTING the shapes she wires together. "I like to be doing something different all the time," she says excitedly. "There are some staples such as baskets, flowers and trees, but I also do many requests such as an image for an Angus herd. I've done all kinds of animals from roosters to alligators."
Some of her favorite sculptures are full-sized human forms,
including her garden ladies. "It takes a long time for
the bigger items," she says. "I make a number of
sketches and then work on welding and setting the
frame. It can take a couple of weeks or more for the
large sculptures." Roger, who often helps weld frames,
is smitten with the snow man popular this time of
Depending upon their surroundings, artists dabble in different mediums. Some play with paints, while others carefully caress clay, And still others, well, at least one woman in Toledo anyway, works with wire. She bends barbed wire, to be exact.|
Vicki Ferriss has the ability to transform a bundle of spiky steel into beautiful pieces of art including snowmen, baskets, trees, animals and more. Give her 30 minutes or so and she can even make a customized sign bearing a customer's last name. "It all started when I wanted to have something for my garden," explains Vicki. "We had wire all around us, being out on the farm, and I discovered that I really enjoyed working with it."
And it takes quite a bit of work to wrestle the barbed wire into these whimsical shapes. Vicki dons a trusty pair of leather chaps and gloves. She says that her upper arms take the brunt of any wire-to-skin con- tact. "The wire always wins," she laughs. "I'm lucky that I'm a fast healer."
"SHE'S ALSO VERY PATIENT,” interjects her husband, Roger. "After watching her do it, I figured that I could do it, too. But I don't have her ability. I'd just force the wire around and get frustrated."
But, just like Vicki says, the wire always wins. And Vicki has been creating some award-winning designs that the couple takes to nearly 40 craft and art shows each year.
As soon as the Ferrisses finish running their combine in the
fields, they take to the highway with their trusty trailer
in tow, visiting shows in a number of Midwest states,
including Nebraska, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Kansas, Michigan
Photo by Joseph Murphy|
"SHE CREATES THESE
some 36 inches in diameter, and
stacks them together for the snowman," he says.
"But they're actually convertible snowmen because you
can take the balls apart and then use them as garden den
globes in the summer."
Whatever the month may be, despite the season they're in,
the Ferrisses spend a lot of time together...on and off the
135-year- old farm they also run. "We really are
together a lot," laughs Roger. "We've been married
nearly 22 years and we spend nearly 100 nights on the road
He pauses, thinking about the next generation, their son,
that may be working on the farm. "That's why we do
things like this," he adds and Vicki quickly agrees.
"And we love to travel and be around people," she
says. "This type of business helps us balance the need
to be on the farm, but also allow us to get out around the
Midwest as well."
To learn more about the Ferriss' business Art From the Farm,
visit their Web site www.artfromthefarm.com or call
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