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Most metal fashion ever...Literally...Check out the wearable art fashion by artist Shelley Smith!



1. So how did you come up with the idea to use oil drums to make recycled jewelry and wearable clothing art pieces?

It was a natural progression..I have always created mostly “functional” art, i.e. vases, platters, light fixtures. It just seemed to be the next step…to make beauty out of what is most definitely considered “the ugly”. Taking something decrepit and elevating it. Then discovering all uses…..even the ability to enhance the body and its' form. That's why some of the gowns are even “regal” and queen like…taking the metal to the highest form of sorts.


2. Did your knowledge of welding have an influence on what you have started to create?

I had very little knowledge or skills in the beginning. I took basic information shown to me and used it to my benefit…after 7 years I have yet to take a professional course. People want me to teach them to weld but I wouldn’t even know if what I was teaching them would be correct ! I use the skill to my benefit, but I wouldn’t weld your car axle back together, you might not make it very far. My abilities and the tools I use are primitive and basic. really just a torch, mig welder, anvil and hammers.


3. When did you jump from making jewelry pieces to wearable art pieces? And was this in part due to your collaboration with Bryce Griffis?

It started when on the gulf coast…as just an idea, with the birds coming out from the neck and corset as a collar, this was “round 1” and was before Bryce. I then had a show at the Jinx in Savannah and then I decided not to exclude fabric…this is when I asked Bryce if he felt he could help create “what I see” in fabric. working with him has been amazing since I can’t really describe with words what I see sometimes…but he always seems to figure out what I am trying to convey. We work very well together.


4. You recently had models parade your creations through Forsyth Park in Savannah, how was the response to the pieces you made?

Oh my gosh…AMAZING ! Lots of photo ops and children that wanted to be in the photos with us. We only made one “pass through” but it took awhile due to the curiosity and people wanting to photograph the girls. It was fun.



5. Do you think you will continue making wearable art? And what do you think you might be creating in the next ten years?

Who knows…I never have a plan. I just go where “the work takes me” ? I never really have an agenda…only that if I did…it would be because the work is constantly changing, evolving, getting bigger, more intricate…and more exciting. Going the other direction would never work. I get bored too easy…it has to constantly be moving to something grander. I am considering entering some of the pieces in some costumer contests in New Zealand…or just gathering some girls to “pop up” during major events like Picnic in the Park in Savannah or Gay Pride in New Orleans…just to bring smiles to peoples faces…give the gowns some purpose. and as far as ten years goes I cannot honestly tell you. I have a billion ideas…a billion places I want to be…a billion things I want to do. My mortal clock is ticking, I hope to see more of the world…and produce at least one “grand” thing !



6. What has been your favorite accomplishment in the past 10 years?

I think the gowns have brought me much joy, especially seeing my work on the cover of the South Magazine twice. It’s a small thing to most, but made me happy. I could care less about my face being in the magazine, but seeing my work in such a professional setting…It felt nice. That and going to Haiti to a month to help children learn to use the things they find, to recycle it to make art, showing them they can be creative with very little. That was special and heart breaking all at the same time and will never be forgotten ! I was proud that I did it…alone…and tried to bring what little skills I could to some children in need.




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