DAVISON TWP. — What started out as making a one-of-a-kind, one-off Christmas ornament has blossomed into a full-fledged hobby for Stacy Rhines.
About 10 years ago, Rhines said he created a piece of scrap art as a wind chime that he made for a family Christmas party that required attendees to make something by hand.
He said he enjoyed making it a hobby so much that it has resulted in him creating 500 or more pieces of art.
Rhines said he’s gotten so good at turning leftover pieces of metal into fun and unique sculptures that he’s submitted one of his artworks to Grand Rapids’ ArtPrize festival, which now runs through October 2.
This is his second entry to ArtPrize, the first being a turtle he made in 2016.
Rhines, 55, said his inspiration comes from everyday things he sees and when something comes to mind, he starts looking for ways to build it as a scrap sculpture.
The parts for Rhines’ creations come from all over the place, he said.
Some of the places he finds materials are flea markets, trips to the junkyard, friends who donate things, and sometimes people ask him if he would like something from a parent’s house to clean up after they die.
“It’s not uncommon for a parent to die and leave me some stuff and then I make something out of it and give it back to their family,” he said. “They can keep it as a memento … a legacy piece so they can remember them and thank them for giving me the materials.”
Much of Rhines’ work can be found on his Facebook page Scrap to Art Metal Works and YouTube pages where he demonstrates how he makes pieces for others to try their hand at scrap metal art.
One of his pieces, that of a man pushing a wheelbarrow, is featured in the landscaping in front of the Hansen Funeral Home, 421 N. Main St., in Davison.
Rhines said his latest entry to ArtPrize is a disc golf course made up of five different sculptures.
The specimens are on display at the John Ball Zoo, 1300 Fulton St. W. in Grand Rapids.
He said MVP Disc Sports in Marlette donated 75 new discs to accompany the exhibit at Grand Rapids so people at the John Ball Zoo can play a game while looking at the sculptures.
Rhines said the zoo has expressed an interest in buying the piece, but he said if they don’t and he doesn’t get another offer, he could bring it home and make it a 9-hole disc golf course in his own backyard .
He calls his artwork a “self-sustaining hobby” because what he earns from selling his pieces allows him to buy any tools or materials needed to build more sculptures.
He’s an engineer by day, says Rhines, and what he likes about his hobby is that after a day on the job where everything has to be done precisely and to specifications, he can be more flexible in working on his hobby.
“At night I can just go home and when I weld an ear on, I can literally hold it up there and look at it and weld it and that’s where it belongs,” he said. “Nobody has to check it; nobody has to discuss it or approve it – that will be it. That is very refreshing for me.”
At this year’s ArtPrize, Rhines said he is one of about 750 artists exhibiting their work in the three-square-mile Grand Rapids borough where the show is held.
There are typically more than 160 venues such as museums, galleries, bars, restaurants, hotels, public parks, bridges, laundromats, body shops and more.
“I’m not doing this because I think I’m going to win,” Rhines said. “I just wanted to be a part of it. I always wanted to do something that big.”