The Ottumwa Courier

Southeast Iowa

October 24, 2012

Planters to help maintain city square flowers

OSKALOOSA — This metal artwork is in tribute to Oskaloosa’s rich musical history.

The Oskaloosa Area Chamber and Development Group has commissioned New Sharon blacksmith Phil Hebert to create a number of planters. Powder coat work on the planters is being completed by Ron Spurlock of Hedrick.

The profits from these planters, which will be for sale through the chamber, are slated to help maintain the flowers on the Oskaloosa square, said OACDG Events Coordinator Karen Hafner.

Hafner explained that Hebert’s involvement with the Fine Arts and Cultural Events of Mahaska County organization is what brought his blacksmithing talent to the chamber’s attention.

In proposing the planter idea to Hebert, Hafner said it was clear that the planters should incorporate a musical theme in tribute to Oskaloosa’s history of music. This past summer, the 100th anniversary of the city’s bandstand was recognized over a series of concerts put on by the Oskaloosa City Band.

So far, the planters have popped up at places like Bank Iowa and Mahaska Drug, noted Hafner. There is also one inside the OACDG office, she added.

The planters will be available for both businesses and residential property, said Hafner. Those interested in the planters, which come in both small and large sizes, can call the OACDG at 672-2591.

Late last week, Hebert discussed the planters project in his New Sharon blacksmithing shop. He said that when he was asked to do the planters, he was simply told to incorporate a musical theme. From there he began making the 3D trumpets and tambourines out of metal that appear on the planters. Hebert noted that working with metal this way is very different from simply cutting a design out of a flat piece of sheet metal.

Hebert noted that Vance Alexander, a former industrial arts teacher in New Sharon, helped out with determining how to accomplish the planters project.

For the past 15 years, Hebert has been spending his spare time working on various blacksmithing projects, many of which have been private commissions from people he knows personally. Hebert said he first began creating using steel and copper back when he lived in Kirksville, Mo. For the past dozen years or so, Hebert has continued his blacksmithing hobby from a workshop just a few steps from his New Sharon home.

When asked how he first got into blacksmithing, Hebert pointed to a good friend of his who specializes in knife making.

Although he’d had some experience working in a sheet metal shop making “anything and everything you could imagine,” it took time for Hebert to get better and better at traditional blacksmith work.

“It was a challenge to make whatever someone asked me to make,” said Hebert, noting that the challenging aspects of blacksmithing are what he enjoys about the trade.

Creativity is a must when it comes to blacksmithing, according to Hebert.

“I think most people need to be creative in some way or form,” he said.

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