Jody Schaible, a farrier for the University of Florida, can bend forks, knives and spoons with his mind. Well, at least bend them into creations from his mind.
Schaible has turned his career of shoeing horses into a venture called Forkinart, in which he creates sculpture, jewelry and other things out of silver and silver-plated eating utensils.
Schaible had been shoeing horses six days a week for the past 15 years. But, last year, he was diagnosed with a heart condition and had to back off from his heavy work schedule. Now, he works at UF two days a week and does his artwork the rest of the time.
Schaible discovered his artistic bent by accident. About three years ago, his family moved into a home in the Ocala historic district and his wife, Elaine, asked that he buy some tiebacks for the kitchen curtains — and she was very specific about what would not work with her decorating theme.
“My wife said absolutely no horseshoes will be in this house, none whatsoever,” Jody Schaible said with a chuckle.
When he came back emptyhanded because the tiebacks were too expensive or looked machined, Elaine told him he had better “do something.”
Jody said they had found a bag of old silverware left behind in a kitchen drawer by the previous owners, so he fashioned a set of tiebacks out of two soup spoons. Some friends saw what he had created and asked him to make some for them.
“Then it just took off. Someone wanted a ring, someone wanted door handles, and I just started figuring out ways to make them,” he said.
He began to gather material from large auctions, 300 to 400 pieces at a time, and also visits antique shops in search of unique pieces. He said people also bring personal pieces and ask him to make items from them.
“I like to use things that are at least 100 years or older. The old silver plate is really good. It holds its color really well,” he said. “I know it sounds kind of corny, but when you pick up a piece, like this old spoon, it has a story. It was part of a set that was with somebody. How many weddings, funerals, baptistms and arguments has this been through? Back in the day, people sat around and ate with this stuff all the time. Then, they just tossed them aside and now you can buy them at garage sales or secondhand stores.”
Schaible debuted his creations in April 2011. He had five necklaces and some makeshift stuff, and sold out.
“I was totally amazed. Then someone said, ‘Hey, I’m going to be at the farmers market, do you want to share a booth?’â€…” he said.
Now, he travels around the country doing shows, booking some six to eight months in advance.
“This was just a hobby, and now it’s three-quarters of my work,” Schaible said.
He said his children are his inspiration.
“You know, there is a lot of love involved in making my art, and my kids are my muse. They come up with a drawing, or they come up with an idea. It’s a family thing,” he said.