Episode 627

This episode of ARTEFFECTS features stories all about reclaimed or recycled arts. Meet the Minden, NV, man behind "Junk Art;" see life-like metal sculptures; watch old piers turn into instruments; military uniforms receive a new life; and the art of twisting metal.

AIRED: April 22, 2021 | 0:26:46

- In the special edition of ARTEFFECTS,

meet the Minden man behind junk art.

(suspenseful music)

- [Pat] I have to be able to go out into the shop

and build something that when I get done with it and I go,

This is really wild.

- [Beth] The lifelike sculptures of metalworker

of Pat Blide.

- [Pat] Once I learn to be able to tool the spikes

and bend them this way and that,

it made the figures just come to life so more.

(soft guitar music)

- [Beth] See musical Instruments,

created out of reclaimed materials

from the shores of Lake Tahoe.

- We like different grains

and different colors of woods to use in our instruments

and also tone wise as well.

They all have a little bit different sound.

(soft music)

- [Beth] Military uniforms receive a new life.

(soft music)

- [Tina] Everybody Participating in that project

could see this transformation

that was happening for me as well as for themselves.

(soft music)

- [Beth] And the art of twisting metal.

- [Jim] Cutting fire pits allows me

to bring out my creative side that I didn't even know.

I really had until just a few years ago.

It's really rewarding to bring people's visions to life.

(soft music)

- It's all ahead on this reclaimed arts edition,


(dramatic music)

- [Presenter] Funding for ARTEFFECTS

is made possible by,

Sandy Raffealli

The June S. Wisham Estate

Carol Franc Buck

Merrill and Lebo Newman

Heidimarie Rochlin

Meg and Dillard Myers.

The annual contributions of PBS Reno Members.

And by...

(soft music)

- Hello, I'm Beth MacMillan

and welcome to ARTEFFECTS.

This week, all our stories focus on the use

of reclaimed or recycled materials to create new art.

For our first segment, meet artist, Paul Schmidt.

He takes rusty gears, broken auto parts,

and even all chainsaws and gives them new life.

Instead of dumping them in a landfill,

Schmidt creates junk art in Minden.

Let's take you to his workshop and show you his creations,

which are anything but ordinary.

(dramatic music)

- [Paul] Crazy, magical, off the wall.


You name it.

There's probably several other terms out there,

that kind of describe my work.

(dramatic music)

- My name is Paul Schmidt.

I guess you could call myself a metal sculptor.

(dramatic music)

I'm retired and I was a park ranger for many years.

It was a wonderful job,

in the end I didn't really have the creative aspect

in my work.

About 10 years ago,

I decided I wanted to take a welding class,

which I did at a local college.

Did some structural welding and kinda got off on the tangent

of doing some art pieces.

I started my artworks with sheet metal pieces

and add a cheap metal to a framework.

And from there,

I evolved to what I call puzzle pieces, which are junk art.

(dramatic music)

The piece evolves from one central piece

that I pick out from all the junk that I have in my garage.

That's where I have a multitude of pieces,

auto parts, lawn mower, lawn equipment parts,

chainsaw parts, pulleys,

automotive parts.

I add also a lot of gears

that can be used for just anything.

Perfect cut and half for an eyebrow,

or even as an eye itself,

as with this.

(dramatic music)

I've built shelving so that I can walk around

and see what I have.

If I need a nose.

If I need a mouth, if I need ears,

if I need a tail for a fish,

I can go and pick out those pieces.

And that helps me

to be able to put those puzzle pieces together a lot better.

The very simple pieces that I make

will take four to five hours.

The very complex will usually take three or four days

and I've probably made

about 125 - 150 different types of pieces.

It's all trial and error.

(welding machine crackles)

I've kind of learned over time that if I'm struggling

to try and complete a piece and it's just not working

then I'm probably going against some kind

of a creative flow there.

And it's better to back away and start on something anew.

(welding machine crackles)

It's kind of neat to know that there's people out there

that are really enjoy the work.

(soft music)

The Brewery Art Gallery

and the Cat City Art Gallery

are both selling my works.

- [Female Art Dealer] When people see Paul's work,

they just love it.

They're they're amazed.

Some people will get down there right next to it

and try and figure out all of the different parts

that Paul has put together to make his creation.

I mean, how cool are they?

He's got all of these different creatures and creations

that come out of his head

and he manages to put them all together

from metal parts, which is just totally amazing.

- [Paul] People that have bought my pieces,

have described me as creative, imaginative,

whimsical, all sorts of different things.

And that's what I find exciting

is when I tap into that creative mode,

I know my wife will come out oftentimes,

for dinner and I'll be right in the middle of something.

And I'll say, can it wait a little bit?

Because you get into that flow

and you just don't wanna let go of it.

Art is, to me it's an expression of that creative flow.

I don't have any idea where it comes from.

I don't know how I tap into it, but the crazier the piece,

the wilder the piece, the more I enjoy it.

(soft music)

- In our next segment,

we go to the small town of Calpine, California

to meet ironworker and metal sculptor, Pat Blide.

See how he brings new life for recycled metal objects,

including all railroad spikes by bending images sculptures

that make a sense of motion.

(soft guitar music)

- I am a metal sculptor.

I learned my trade through being a metal fabricator,

I worked on a lot of farms in the Midwest

and then came to California, started working at ski areas

doing the same thing

and started from there.

(soft guitar music)

Let me say artists pay their dues.

All that is, is learning your trade.

I got so much better when I became a full-time artist.

Now that's all I did.

So I had eight hours a day to come up with art and do art

whole difference, world and coming home

from an eight hour job and then doing art.

So, when you're immersed in all day long

it's amazing how much better you get

just because you're doing it all the time.

(soft guitar music)

I like working with reclaimed objects

because I do a lot of traveling out in the desert

and I see a lot of it.

I live in the Big Ranch Valley.

And most of the ranches have a big metal scrap pile

that I asked to go through

and they have all kinds of sprockets and gears

and you name it, all kinds of metal.

(soft guitar music)

One of my number one pieces of metal I like to use,

are the railroad spikes because they're quite plentiful.

They're all railroad spikes that were used

on the transcontinental railroads,

so they got quite a bit of history behind them.

(soft guitar music)

I used to rock the tracks with the pickle bucket

and till my arms dropped off.

And then I found out after 9/11

that it's a $350 fine for trespassing on the tracks.

So, now I buy them from a railroad salvage place.

Apparently there's 10,000 spikes per mile of track.

So, I figured I'll have spikes for the rest of my life.

(soft guitar music)

(welding machine whirs)

As far as using the spikes,

I have to use two big fans blowing on me

because there's still creosote oil in the spikes.

So when that heats up.

That's a pretty noxious fumes.

If I'm working in a windstorm pretty much all the time.


When I first started, I kinda got the basic,

the Vinci man.

I found the feet, the hips, the shoulders

and a lock washer that they used the both tracks together

that I used for the head.

(soft music)

At first, I didn't know you could bend the spikes

as easily as you could.

And once I learned to be able to tool the spikes

and bend them this way and that,

it made the figures just come to life so much more

by putting the nuances of movement into the sculpture,

like a downhill skier in mid-air dips,

just crossed a little bit, little things like that,

that before I didn't pay that much attention to,

but now I'm really finding the movement more and more.

The reason I do all the sports figures mainly

is because I am a partner of Art Gallery and Truckee

and people buy the stuff that they do.

So all the skiers, mountain climbers, I mean, you name it

any sport that happens in Truckee,

mountain biking, paddle boarding,

people who do that stuff

are just drawn to those sculptures

because it is what they do.

And I guess they see

a bit of themselves in the sculpture,

which is awesome 'cause the more sports that get invented.

the more I get the challenge myself and making stuff.

(soft music)

- For more information, visit

And now let's take a look at this week's art quiz,

which artist is best known for being the first

to create recycled art out of paper and newsprint?

Is the answer,

A: Pablo Picasso

B: Marcel Duchamp

C: Robert Rauschenberg

or D: George Braque.

And the answer is A: Pablo Picasso.

Up next, we meet some friends

who decided to turn master woodworking

and furniture building skills

into an artist collective that builds musical instruments

out of reclaimed construction materials

from the beautiful shores of Lake Tahoe.

(soft ukalele music)

- [Tyler] TYDE music is a collaborative company

that makes instruments

in North Lake Tahoe, California.

And we kinda focus on ukuleles

and other small portable instruments.

For the ukuleles, we build four different sizes

and we have a soprano,

a concert and a tenor and a baritone size.

It's a Hawaiian instrument.

And the Hawaiians called it the ukulele

which means I think jumping flee

because the way they played it was real quick.

And it was like a flee jumping up and down.

(soft ukalele music)

- [Tyler] We use a lot of materials from around the area,

we've started out with the reclaimed woods.

'Cause that's what we had available.

We like different grains

and different colors of woods to use in our instruments

and also tone wise as well.

They all have a little bit different sound.

(soft ukalele music)

One of our partners Klein really turned us

onto, this building concept that yeah, you can go out

and you can use reclaimed materials

'cause they're right in our backyard and it's got character.

It's got a story.

(soft ukalele music)

- [Andy] Our absolute favorite materials to Work with,

are recycled piers out of Lake Tahoe

mostly because they're so close to extreme elements

of the microclimates that swirl through Lake Tahoe

the sun bouncing off of the water

and the way that magnifies, calcifies

and just bakes that wood.

It condenses, all the different woods structures.

Then you have wind swirling up, as they do in storms.

They'll just pop off at Lake Tahoe

they'll grab the sand and sandblast

and pit almost like an alligator print onto the wood.

And then the ice comes in

and it's breaking apart different places

where the water drips, it does it more.

- There's a lot of politics involved

in taking something down in the basin of Lake Tahoe.

And luckily our next door neighbor right here,

is the pier builder on the North shore of Lake Tahoe.

And so, he dismantles them and rebuilds them.

We get to go down with him, pick out materials

from the pier that he's dismantling.

- We start very carefully, lifting the boards off

to try to keep them in intact as much as we can.

And we're looking to cherry pick the very most interesting,

most lake-effected boards that we can.

And, then there's the job to stacking them carefully,

keeping them from twisting.

- That office view, nothing like it.


That's the best office.

You go out there, you gotta go check out material

that has been weathered for years.

We gotta go experience these old piers

that are falling apart

and they're reborn into an art form

that we like looking for different knots

and different textures

and different materials to use.

I mean, we even used some of the nails.

Those aren't all going into the trash.

There's so many things that you can think of there.

Your mind kind of is like,

what am I gonna do with this material?

Let's make something special.

And it's a foreign story.

Some people bet on that pier before.

- [Devin] I think the most successful pieces we have,

are when we find those pieces

that show the reclaimed or the rough edge.

And then we put that into an instrument.

So someone does know when they look at that they're like,


That's an ukalele

but why is it look like it's kind of chipped up?

Or how did that happen?

When someone looks at one of our instruments

and can instantly recognize that,

yeah, that came from an old piece of wood

an old barn, an old pier, an old whatever.

I think that's a pretty successful piece of art.

- [Tyler] A lady that came up to us at the Reno Ukalele Fest

fell in love with one of our reclaimed instruments.

And we told her the story

about it being from a Lake Tahoe, up here.

And that's what really touched her heart.

And she walked away with that ukulele that weekend

because her mom used to live up in Lake Tahoe.

And that's what sold the instrument to this lady.

It was because it brought up childhood memories

and thoughts of her mother.

I wish there's more people like us

to actually take material and make art with it

and not have to go to landfill and have other,

nasty things going back into the earth.

I'm a big fan of just reclaiming wood

and getting it locally sourced.

But obviously we can't work with it all the time.

Some people want that exotic wood

and we're not gonna say no to it, that's our clients.

(soft ukalele music)

There's a lot of reclaimed materials

that our people are using

and I'm just stoked to be a part of it.

And I'm excited to build more instruments out of it.

(soft ukalele music)

- To learn more about TYDE music and its creations,

go to

The David

J. Drakulich Foundation for Freedom of Expression in Reno

is home to Combat Paper Nevada.

Through this project,

military uniforms are transformed into paper

which is then made into different kinds of art.

The process is healing for both veterans

and the families of military members

who made the ultimate sacrifice.

(soft piano music)

- I remember when I first started to cut David's uniform

I had this shock of, can you do this?

Should you do this?

You can't uncut it.

I can remember feeling I was shaky

and my mouth was kind of dry.

And I went ahead and cut.

(soft music)

And then it went into the beater.

And I remember watching these little pieces

float through the water

and there was something renewing about that,

just watching the pieces,

just getting sifted, and crushed

and the fibers being liberated.

And then when I made the sheets of paper,

that fear and everything

just sort of turned into something new, that was good.

Cause at that time I was pretty depressed.

(soft music)

I am co-founder

of David J. Drakulich Foundation for Freedom of Expression.

And our vision statement is art heals war wounds.

(melancholic music)

We started working as a foundation as early as 2009.

After our son was killed in 2008.

(melancholic music)

we were able to establish

the Combat Paper Nevada Project.

we cut up uniforms or any kind of cloth,

cut them into postage stamp size pieces

and put them in the feeder.

- This is part of uniforms that we cut up and we shred

(melancholic music)


we add this to the beater

and we beat it.

It's a metal wheel.

It just beats it, it beats the fibers,

that way, we don't cut the fibers

and the fibers sit back in together

and they form paper and it is very loud.

(cheerful music)

- [Tina] The fiber becomes so small

and kind of forms a slurry

with the water that it's mixed with.

And we pour that into a batch

and sift it out with a mold and deco

(soft music)

and form the sheet by quashing them onto a pellon

and then drying them.

(soft music)

- [Joel] That's what it looks like.

We do big papers, big flags,

colorful flags, cranes or a gummy.

As a veteran, combat paper

has opened up friendship doors.

- [Tina] To be able to start to express my personal feelings

and views about what I had lived through was so empowering.

I realized I had gone through this uniform

as a symbol of pain and loss and grief

and stuff I don't really agree with sometimes.

And this whole out of control thing

where all I can do is look at this thing

and feel like crying

to where I overcame that by cutting it up

and overpowering it.

I turned it into something I wanted

and that was a huge turning point

for me in my healing process.

(soft music)

- To learn more about Combat Paper Nevada,


Jim Moffitt of Fernie is no stranger to metalwork.

A few years back this welder found a new passion,

transforming metal orbs into unique fire pits.

Each 360 degree creation different from the last.

- My name is Jim Moffitt

founder and creator behind Twisted Steel.

(dramatic music)

I make fire pits out of maybe mine casings,

old propane tanks and just about anything I could find.

(dramatic music)

I worked construction most of my life.

I opened a welding shop in 2000

and mainly did fences and some fancy gates and whatnot.

I started creating fire pits in, I believe June of 2014.

The first step of creating a fire pit is that chalk outline,

which can take anywhere from a day to a week or more.

Then the next step is to grab the plasma cutter

and start cutting on it.

(dramatic music)

(plasma cutter crackles)

then cut one off the other five or six hours.

(dramatic music)

(metal crackles)

Today I'm cutting a fire pit for a client

that lives in Tahoe.

(plasma cutter crackles)

Her and her husband are avid elk hunters.

So we decided to go with two bold elk fighting,

elk standing in the trees and she also wanted bears.

So I added a mama bear, a papa bear and three baby bears

to represent their family of five.

(soft music)

(metal crackles)

It's really rewarding to bring people's visions to life.

A lot of my clients have no artistic skills at all.

One was an accountant and she just relied on me,

to bring her vision to life in a fire pit.

(soft music)

When you create something that is basically their idea

there's no feeling like it.

(soft music)

It's hard to pick a favorite.

They're all just super fun.

My dragon fire pit had flying dragons,

burn up the forests, the dragon on the ground

with just stars in space and burnt trees,

as well as living trees.

It was just fun and came together really easy.

Once you start the fire

and the fire in the background

really makes things come to life.

(soft music)

Cutting fire pits allows me to bring out my creative side

that I didn't even know I really had,

until just a few years ago.

(soft music)

I gotta spirea now

I really wasn't sure about this.

When I started Twisted Steel and starting doing this.

And I was in my fifties when I did this

and in my youth I had no idea or I would end up here.

And it's just...

it's really neat to find yourself

and find something you love, then just go with it.

(soft music)

- You can see more of Moffitt's metal creations


And that wraps it up for this reclaimed arts edition


For more arts and culture

or to watch past episodes visit

until next week.

I'm Beth MacMillan.

Thanks for watching.

- [Presenter] Funding for ARTEFFECTS is made possible by,

Sandy Raffealli,

The June S. Wisham Estate

Carol Franc Buck

Merrill and Lebo Newman

Heidimarie Rochlin

Meg and Dillard Myers.

The annual contributions of PBS Reno Members.

And by...

(soft music)

(dramatic music)


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