When is barbed wire the wrong or the right kind?
(and who knew there were so many types!)
My husband and father continuously make not so subtle suggestions about using barbed wire in my work. To the extent that they bring me different pieces when they find it, twist it into shapes, proclaim loudly when they come across a 'perfectly rusted' stash, and complain bitterly when it's not rusty enough.
From their influence I've been playing with barbed wire for a while now and working with the different shapes they come up with to try to make wall hangings, but it's never quite been right...
he last few weeks I've been back home on Curtin Springs (a million acre cattle station in Central Australia), spending time with family, working in the cattle yards, paper-making with native grasses, showing the new Artists-In-Residence through the process, landscape and life on the station (before the current events made it too crazy to stay and I had to come home to husband and children and Grandma!). I'd taken pretty much everything with me to complete orders and make anything that was needed in my own business while I was there. Halfway through the 2300km drive, I realised that my husband had cut and washed a box of wire... but not barbed wire. 'Oh well' I thought. There are so many old fences and piles of old fencing that I'm sure to get some if the need arises.
Then it happened... an order for Alpaca Flowers on barbed wire. Asking the senior members of the family where I might find a stash that could be used, I was given instructions and left to go searching. DILEMMA! It was all shiny and new!
Over 3 days my father and I, and then my mother and father and I, covered about 200 km, finding the old fences and looking for correctly rusted barbed wire. We didn't find the type I needed to make flowers - it was all too new looking or not the type we could undo the twists. There was however ample of this lovely barbed wire that caught my fancy.
'Army barb' is what my Poppa called it. (Poppa is 92 and took over the pastoral lease of Curtin Springs in 1956. He's seen and done it all, and has the most amazing stories). They say this particular barbed wire was only made by the Army during WWI and WWII. It was the wire that was run in coils around trenches, and three quarters of a century later it is still pretty lethal. Each barb is actually an individual link that has been connected together with the next one, and made from high tensile wire. Nothing like I have ever seen before and another example of 'they don't make it like they used to'.
After WWII the army didn't need it any more and the surplus was then used by the pastoralists to build fences.
I was chatting with Poppa asking him about the wire, where it came from, what he knew, and then of course asked him how they came to purchase it.
In his beautifully level tone he simply said 'no Dear, we acquired it'.
The internal giggle ended the conversation. He has always had a way with words!