After tinkering most of his life, Larry Fielder is still driven by creating function out of dysfunction.
Fielder – local maker and entrepreneur behind Rust, Dust, and Other 4 Letter Words – builds working industrial furniture from an ever-growing collection of found, sourced and even donated industrial artifacts.
Most of the gizmos and gears Fielder acquires are branded obsolescent by society at large. He combines a love of history, mechanical talent and creative eye to make these relics function once more.
From an antiquated birdcage, a new lamp is born. Downed telephone poles are honed and framed in iron to become a coffee table. Wrenches are cut by plasma torch and transformed from tools into hardware like drawer handles.
He credits much of his industrial curiosity to his father, a millwright who dismantled, repaired, installed and reassembled factory machinery. While his dad worked, Fielder explored the landscape of his workshop and taught himself to use an array of tools.
As a teen, Fielder’s canvas was the bicycle. His natural creativity had him dismantling banana bicycles and getting a neighbor to weld together his new concepts: chopper-style bikes. Eventually, Fielder was working on small engines and vehicles.
After several years working as an auto collision repairman, Fielder started a career as a claims adjuster at Westfield Insurance that spans to this day. As his career grew, Fielder’s creative side never subsided, if anything it grew.
Fielder built and built and built some more in the off hours at his Euclid home. His workshop continued to fill with raw material – the “what-could-be” – and a steady flow of projects.
About five years ago, he began to take his work more seriously. Friends, neighbors and friends-of-friends – total strangers – praised his work and encouraged him to bring it to the wider community. In tandem with this, Fielder began to frequent the Waterloo Arts and Entertainment District and met numerous artists. One connection led to another, and Fielder found himself the first tenant of Article (Art in Cleveland) in October 2014.
Fielder says it’s the process of making and the history in the components he uses that really fuels his work. He loves telling people the story of each object and new piece.
For his customers and fans, Fielder thinks their attraction to the work is twofold. There’s something that draws people (himself included) to moving pieces and parts. And his works are laced with duality: Pieces appear rough and jagged, but are actually clean and smooth to the touch. An old lifeless bulb suddenly glows with the flick of a switch.
Now established on the street, Fielder is also becoming involved in the neighborhood at large. He was elected one of Northeast Shores Development Corporation’s newest Board Members on January 19, 2016 and is a participating member of Made in Collinwood, Northeast Shores’ maker support initiative.
Keep an eye out for Rust, Dust, and Other 4 Letter Words at Brite Winter on February 20 in the Junkyard Jamboree Experience, featuring installations and vendors with an eclectic and repurposed focus.