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Artist Ed Fraase makes his magic from metal
By Kathleen Ostrander

That propane tank would make a lovely penguin, and perhaps that lawn mower blade might end up as a praying mantis. Needle-nose pliers might be a bird beak, and a saw blade a fish's spine.

Welcome to the world of artist Ed Fraase. Fraase's world is a whimsical and artistic place where recycled materials become metal sculptures. There is a good deal of humor in his pieces. Then again, it is likely a necessity to have a good sense of humor if creative muses include Harleys, dragons, car things and skulls.

A Springfield resident, Fraase is a member of the Prairie Art Alliance, and his sculptures have been exhibited at The Gables and the Hoogland Center for the Arts.

At a recent Hoogland exhibition, a woman was going on and on about a piece of sculpture she had purchased from Fraase. He said he remembered the piece.

"I remember each one; they are signed - sometimes in a place where you have to look for it - and someday I am going to invite all of them home and have a party," he said with a laugh. Each piece gets a name, depending on its characteristics, from Fraase's daughter.

In a shed on his property that he calls his sanctuary, Fraase fires up the welder and makes a piece of art out of something the average person would toss into the recycling bin.

One of his pieces, "Patience," has a snake, a bird, a bug and a bigger bug. The snake is a bike chain and the other set of food chain members are perched and placed on a length of sculpted rebar. Then there's humor and irony as well as some iron in his pieces.

"Road Kill" features a skeleton driving a motorcycle.

"I look at a part, and I get inspired," Fraase said. So a floor jack, pieces of a snowmobile, hand tools and car and truck parts become flowers, spiders, snakes, a snowman, Lincoln's hat. If he can envision something, he can make it.

A piece can take three days or three weeks, it just depends on the details and those small little additions that make the piece a classic "must-buy" for someone. A Fraase piece has initial "wow" impact, and then a closer look will bring out another detail. For example - at first glance, "Patience" looks like a bird and some insects on a stand. A closer look shows the chain is a snake and then a little reflection leads to discovering that the whole piece represents a food chain.

People donate scrap to Fraase, although he does usually turn down washers, dryers and water heaters.

"People leave stuff at the house. People come by with stuff. I can use most of it," he said.

A piece may have spark plugs and a door knob, some ball bearings and all of it is turned into whimsical art that can be displayed indoors or outdoors.

Sculpture is not Fraase's first foray into the art world. "I did watercolors; I worked in wood. This is what I really enjoy, and people enjoy what I make," he said.


Story published Friday, January 9, 2009 ( Volume 4, Number 1 )

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