A fourth-generation blacksmith and metal worker, Barry Wheeler's pieces are famous for their distinct, whimsical style. His work demonstrates care and attentiveness, as many pieces include moving internal parts such as a mini 57mm anti-tank gun or a squawking bird. Wheeler's smithing career began at an early age. After leaving the navy in 1970, he opened a small shop and started producing small, traditional metalwork such as mailbox stands, hardware, and plant stands. By 1976, Wheeler felt that his traditional items were uninspiring so he turned to more complex pieces with moving parts. He describes this style as "tabletop stuff" in that it is meant to entertain and bring people together. Wheeler designs many of his projects on scrap paper, meticulously drawing the parts of each item and hoping that they function once completed. Due to his distinct crafting style, Wheeler is regarded as an innovative blacksmith who pushes the boundaries of metalwork in ways that are sure to inspire future artists.
Barry Wheeler's Traditions episode.
Southern Ohio Forge & Anvil: SOFA is an organization that promotes the art of blacksmithing throughout Ohio
Contents of the Collection
- Images of various sculptures including a small bird, mini 57mm anti-tank gun, door handle, small car
- Hand-drawn plans for model tank and armored bird
- Video of various sculptures in motion; closeup shots of "Griffin Boltworks" sculpture internal parts in motion
- Video of Wheeler using furnace