With freezing temperatures all around, I figured it was a good day to stay in
and reminisce about warmer days and fun with friends. A little summer flashback!
A full day of fun in the sun with “my very first art fair friends” friends Gerry & Rosene… shopping all of the “treasures” at the Third Sunday Flea Market in Bloomington back in October. And a quick glimpse into the back of their car at the end of the day!!!
So you know I’m obsessed with all things RUSTY!!!
So imagine my surprise when we drove out into the middle of Central Illinois and found an entire menagerie of rusty animals!!! Including a life-sized llama with a full pelt of chains! WHOO-HOO!!!
Heart palpitations… Visual overload… Sweaty palms… this might be too much!
Life-sized animals made from assorted truck & farm equipment parts & pieces. And then left to rust. All with loving care & creativity of sculpture artist Robert Cumpston. Apparently he’s pretty well known in those parts. We ran into his daughter in a thrift store in Peoria the day before. So Rosene called him and asked if we could stop by and he said ‘of course.’ And by “those parts” I mean somewhere far out in the middle of NOWHERE!!! We drove miles & miles into the perfectly flat cornfields of rural Illinois.
Love the bird that has taken up residence in his favorite deer head…
So we got the FULL tour from Robert Cumpston himself. A wonderfully kind & sharing man. And very chatty. He walked us all over his property and showed us his creations. Each one more adorable than the next.
The tour continued… and he kept chatting and telling his stories. I took a few chances to split off to go searching on my own. Good thing Gerry & Rosene were so attentive. .. or at least played along better than I did.
As we continued the tour, there are piles and piles of scrap metal. All waiting to become something cool. Partial animals here & there. Most likely never to be completed… like the giraffe body below… top left of the pile.
And then he took us inside the barn into his studio. So many tools. So many things to see.
Tools everywhere. Pieces & parts. And an occasional llama head…
Sad thing is that he has since retired from making his rusty creatures. He says he “tinkers” a bit, but I fear that many of these animals will never be completed. And that his skills and talents will soon be lost. I asked if he had ever thought of getting an apprentice or intern to teach and help carry on his rusty legacy. Unfortunately, there was no plan and no real understanding of how sad it would be to let all of this talent & expertise end here.
And now back to the rust… it was everywhere!!! Bins packed full. Skids piled over. Pallets with rusty metal being overgrown with grasses. Heaven for those with a healthy appreciation for all things rust.
By the end of the day, my friend’s car was packed full. It was a great day at the Bloomington Flea Market followed by a surprising “haul” from Robert Cumpston’s place.
Click HERE for a video tour of Robert Cumpston’s place on YouTube. Unfortunately, you can see how much of his “inventory” has found a new home since the video was published in 2004.
And click HERE to see another clip of a Cumpston piece at the Antique’s Roadshow!
Apparently he made more than just animals?!!!
And here’s one of the cuties that come home with me…
and is now living under the park bench in my kitchen!