Central Queensland women turn landfill waste into sculptural art | Queensland country life


Two Central Queensland women have found inspiration in agricultural waste and are turning old fence wire into unique, handmade wire sculptures.

Jackie Murdoch and Melissa Spencer share the same passion for the bush and animals, which is reflected in their works.

With an abundance of farm wire and scrap metal ending up in landfill every year, the two women began collecting waste for art and now make a profit selling their wire sculptures.

Jackie and her husband Nathan Murdoch and their three children run the Morbank Cattle Farm, 90 kilometers northwest of Rockhampton.

In her spare time, Jackie has started her small business called Country Dust Creations, where she markets her barbed wire hat designs.

“It’s a little hobby that I do when I have free time,” Ms Murdoch said.

“I went to a friend’s house and she asked me if I wanted to make a barbed wire hat with her and I did. I started doing it for a little ‘me time’, instead of being busy with the kids all the time.”

“Basically, we’re tearing down old barbed wire fences and when we have time, I turn the remaining wire into wide-brimmed hats.

“It’s better than being thrown in the dump.”

After posting her hats on social media, Jackie has created a huge fan base, with hundreds of people admiring her art.

“I’ve sold about 20 barbed wire hats all over Australia. People seem to like the texture of it. I love making them and seeing the end result,” she said.

“I’ve decided that I’m only going to sell what I make. I’m not going to start placing orders because they take a bit of time to make and I want to be able to keep creating different things, not just making the same flower on the same hat.”

Jackie's barbed wire hats have been widely searched online.

Jackie’s barbed wire hats have been widely searched online.

To make the hat itself, it takes Jackie about three hours, which includes creating the unique flower and sourcing the yarn.

With her husband’s help, Jackie said it was a fun process.

“The flowers are all made of old corrugated iron from the local landfill,” Ms Murdoch said.

“I first draw a stencil, trace around the stencil, cut out the stencil, then assemble it, then fold it, shape it and paint it.

“The blue hat, which has the three blue flowers with the blue band and the solid blue yarn around the outside, is probably my favorite right now, but every time I make a hat, I have a different favorite .

“My husband is also a big help, he helped me with the welding and shaping side of things.

“He also has a bit of a talent for that, but he doesn’t have time for it.”

Passion for working dogs inspires art

A few hundred miles away, Melissa Spencer of Mayfield, Willows, also shares the same passion for wire art.

Melissa with two of her dogs on the family property in Mayfield, near Bogantungan.

Melissa with two of her dogs on the family property in Mayfield, near Bogantungan.

Ms Spencer saw inspiration in the work of other artists, who found creativity in turning old threads into works of art.

“I had wanted to do wire art for a while before I started,” she said.

“I had seen chicken wire sculptures made from new wire and people making art out of scrap wire, which I always thought was cool.

“We certainly don’t have a shortage of scrap wire in the area, so I thought I’d give it a try.”

"Rusty the working dog a handmade recycled wire <a class=sculpture by Melissa. Photos: provided ” title=”"Rusty the working dog a handmade recycled wire sculpture by Melissa. Photos: provided ” width=”1920″ height=”1079″/>

“Rusty the working dog a handmade recycled wire sculpture by Melissa. Photos: Supplied

With a love and passion for working dogs, Melissa created two life-size kelpie wire sculptures from regular wire and old netting.

“It’s a great creative outlet and something different to do, I really like it. I made my first wire dog sculpture in late 2020 as a Christmas present,” she said.

“Working dogs are an integral part of my life. I love working them with livestock.

“It took me about four days to bring the large dog sculpture to life, while the small one only took me about a day to make.”

Melissa donated one of her dog sculptures to the ‘Tie up the black dog’ charity auction, which sold for $450.

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