Metal works of art a highlight of Tioga fair

People walk past "Monty, a dog gone dragon," a large sculpture made by local artist John Andrews on display during the Winter Fine Arts Fair at the Tioga Town Center in Jonesville near Gainesville Saturday, March 8, 2014.

Brad McClenny/The Gainesville Sun
Published: Saturday, March 8, 2014 at 7:30 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, March 8, 2014 at 7:30 p.m.

While a colorful, scaly dog/dragon sculpture is the focal point of the Town of Tioga Winter Fine Art Fair, it is not the only interesting metal piece at the show.



What: Town of Tioga Winter Fine Art Fair, which also features live music, food and children's activities.
When: Sunday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Where: Tioga Town Center, Newberry Road, east of Jonesville.

From butterflies and alligators crafted by a High Springs welder to a blacksmith who hammers steel into all kinds of shapes, the show, which continues today, has its fair share of heavy metal.

“I've been welding 15 years. The art came with it. Not many people do it and it is something I enjoy,” said Michael Adams of Mystic Makings in High Springs. “With welding, you can make stuff and burn stuff at the same time.”

Adams shapes individual pieces of metal and then welds them together to form various designs.

For Glen Purdy of Purdy Designs in Micanopy, the metal is the frame. Purdy shapes metal into Jules Verne-inspired open-sided submarines, sharks or whales that are several feet long. On the inside are mini tableaus with all sorts of objects -- people, more whales and sharks, snakes and surfboards.

On Saturday, browsers gazed at the pieces for minutes, finding small details that add up to a larger whole.

“It's interesting. I've looked at it a lot -- over and over again -- and I find new things,” said John Bradley of Gainesville. “The details have all sorts of references to different things.”

Blacksmith Leslie Tharp -- one of the few women in the field -- has created sculptures that can be found from the University of Florida veterinary college to public places in several states.

Tharp recently used a Kickstarter campaign to raise money for a project that has large hoops forming hot-air balloons that hover over metal baskets. The piece fills a space 20 feet wide and high and it's on exhibit in Arizona.

“I do blacksmithing workshops and I do get a lot of women showing up. A lot of them come from a jewelry background, but they're making the same thing in the workshop that a guy would,” Tharp said.

Local artist John Andrews created Monty, the Dog Gone Dragon. Monty is a 10-foot-tall, 4,000-pound sculpture made from recycled metals that has the head of a dog and the body of a dragon. It is on display by itself at the center of the fair.

If the metal art at the show was big and bold, Mary Lee's paper art was delicate and intricate.

Lee does origami -- but not just the cranes and other figures people often associate with paper folding. A Korea native who now lives in Tallahassee, Lee takes a colored, roughly inch-sized square of paper and folds it 40 times using tweezers and needles.

Dozens of the tiny slivers are used to form jewelry in the shape of flowers, crosses and other designs.

While it's not as physical as hammering steel on an anvil, it is taxing, Lee said.

“My shoulders will hurt, but not my hands,” Lee said, gesturing to show how her shoulders tense up from the act of folding the paper.

The fair also features live music, food and children's activities. It continues today from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. at the Tioga Town Center on Newberry Road in Jonesville.

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