Do you love the look and feel of a bit of rusty metal around the place? Rusty metals, peeling paints and furniture with knocks and chips, make many of us fall in love with them, due to their visual feast, as well as the history and stories that lie behind each piece. Marlene Pearce from Adelong in New South Wales, loves rusty metals so much, she spends a lot of time creating beautiful sculptures from recycled metals. All the materials she uses are eco friendly, sourcing them from clearing sales, old farm tips, and recycling centres. She loves the patina and shades of rust that old metal acquires, and imagines the story of its origins, sometimes having moss, lichens and verdigris attached to the surfaces as well. Many old pieces like these have been made slaving over a red hot forge a hundred years ago, and it is incredible to try and imagine the skills needed to do this, many of which are lost to us today, or just not being used.
This interest began for Marlene during a TAFE course called “Yard Art for Women” in 2005, where the students were taught the basics of welding, and working with metals. “I am a retired school teacher, but still working with my husband on our beef cattle farm. My patient husband helps me a lot as some of the sculptures are large and heavy, and his skills are more proficient than mine,” explains Marlene.
The business started mostly because she hates waste and continually saw tonnes of rusty, old, unloved machinery being turned into dollars by being melted down. She felt this was such a loss, as so many of these machines were made by hand in a forge and their story is lost forever. Hence, she thought she could give these pieces a new life as a beautiful piece of art.
“I fell in love with the idea when friends admired what I did and asked if they could buy some of the works. I felt I could give new life to a sad piece of scrap and make it shine again,” she says.
There are not many negatives to the hobby, except that some adventures to collect steel have met with obstacles! And sometimes Marlene has scratched her car when a treasure had to be loaded into it due to the ute not being available. She also gets very dirty and hot in the shed as the steel is never clean!
“I am passionate about sustainability and hate waste of any kind. I live in an amazing stone house built in 1873. Nearly everything in the house is second hand, recycled, or rescued. I grow most of the vegetables and fruit used in the household at present, any surplus is put into jams, pickles, or frozen for later use when not available,” Marlene told me. She encourages everyone to grow their own food where possible, and says it is hard work but rewarding, and very healthy without all the preservatives used in modern day food. There are many recycling shops, second hand dealers and op shops where any amount of good clothing, furniture, kitchenalia etc can be sourced for little cost, then revamped if so desired to suit your taste.
The biggest challenge to starting up, was having availability of shed space and the necessary machinery and tools to work with, and availability of interesting pieces of scrap to create with. Marlene says most people love her work and cannot believe what can be created from a rusty piece of junk!
Marlene’s Tips For a More Sustainable Home
- Source products made from natural goods – timber, stone, steel, wool, cotton etc
- Recycle wherever possible
- Purchase all food products without packaging, and not processed
- Grow your own food if possible, and cook all your own food
- Try not to use plastic in the household as it is the scourge of the world
When not creating something magical from rusty old metals, Marlene relaxes by playing tennis, reading, gardening,cooking and having family and friends over for a meal.
“I think people are too caught up with materialism today. We need to be happy with what we have, try to help someone or a community wherever possible and never forget we are lucky to live in the best country in the world.”
To find about about how to purchase one of Marlene’s pieces you can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org