In the quiet hum of her work shed, Jodi Casey sits surrounded by a treasure trove of discarded materials, worn metal, and the earthy aroma of camphor laurel.

As we speak, she is busy completing a freestanding 20-centimetre-wide butterfly sculpture perched on a piece of aged driftwood. Its vibrant hues of teal and blue, sourced from vintage jewellery, intertwine delicately to its wings that are bordered by an old bicycle chain.

Jodi creates one-off recycled and repurposed sculptures using thoughtfully selected rusty metal objects, vintage jewellery and sustainably sourced timber.

Although creating these unique pieces is still a relatively new-found love for this Maroochydore-based artist, her fondness of the old began at a young age, growing up with parents who collected all things antique and second-hand.

“I love rusty things, which sort of evolved from my mum and dad who have always collected knick-knacks and nostalgic-era pieces,” she says.

“I really loved art in school, but I didn’t ever pursue it,” Jodi says, sorting through the materials on her workbench. “I tried most things. I used to draw, paint, I did ceramics, but it was never my thing.”

While Jodi has always appreciated the diversity of art in all its forms, it was only five years ago she felt an artistic calling to create pieces of her own.

“When my boys grew older and needed me less, I really felt the pull to find a hobby,” Jodi says. “I was in my shed one day, and I thought, ‘I might just start making something with some metal’.”

The idea then progressed into making pieces for her family and friends, experimenting with different materials, and eventually, it took on its own life as a successful business venture. Completely self-taught, Jodi has embraced trial and error as her greatest teacher.

“My style is certainly not traditional, and I have never seen anything similar where there are so many diverse objects together to create a piece. It’s so free form,” she says.

“I do tend to gravitate towards nature for my sculptures, and if I’m making a bird, for example, I will find a picture of that bird online and study its stance. It doesn’t always turn out exactly like it, but I just try to let it all flow until I’m happy with it.”

While she’s open to taking on different types of sculpture projects, Jodi says her focus now is predominately on making freestanding sculptures; feature pieces that come with a base and are suitable for adorning kitchen tables, side tables, or even a verandah.

“I’m more mindful these days. I try not to make any sculptures that are too heavy,” Jodi says. “If I know I wouldn’t be able to lift it – I won’t make it. A lot of the time, this comes down to what timber I’ve selected.”

Jodi regularly scours op shops, garage sales and tip shops in search of treasures and trinkets to with which to adorn her works of art. The idea of creating pieces that hold a bit of history and nostalgia is what inspires her the most.

“For me, creating pieces that resonate with people is my biggest drive,” she says.

“When someone looks at a piece and says, ‘oh my nana used to have one of these’, or ‘my granddad had one of these in his shed’ – I love that connection.”

With many of her sculptures currently on show and available for purchase at Stephen Street Gallery in Yandina, Jodi finds joy in taking on commissioned work from time-to-time, in particular creating memorial pieces for clients whose loved ones have passed.

“I had a lady from America send me all of her jewellery that were her grandmother’s, who she had looked after before she died,” she says.

“She asked if I could make something with it and we had a chat about what she [her grandmother] was like as a person and what she loved doing.”

“When the pieces arrived in the mail and I put them all out on the table and started sorting through them all, I instantly saw a garden scene,” Jodi says. “Her grandmother loved gardening, so that’s what we created.”

For Jodi, art is like revealing a part of herself, it’s a natural way to express emotions with each piece reflecting feelings that can often take months to fully capture.

And while much of her days are spent in her work shed, assembling sculptures piece by piece, Jodi says she looks forward to annual events like the ones held by Arts Connect, a non-for-profit organisation on the Sunshine Coast.

“There’s such a strong arts community here on the Coast, with so many diverse artists,” Jodi says.

“The Arts Trail and Sculpture on the Edge events that are held by Arts Connect each year are such a great way for artists and art-lovers to come together, ask questions and interact.”

Jodi was one of several artists who opened their studio space at the most recent Arts Trail event, welcoming more than 250 eager visitors.

“It’s so much fun to have these social events because being an artist is usually so solo,” she says.

Sculpture on the Edge, also held on the Sunshine Coast annually by Arts Connect, is exclusively for local sculptors to showcase and sell their works, give talks and offer workshops to the public.

For the rest of the year though, Jodi remains immersed in her creations, with the whir of her drill and her favourite playlist of bands providing the soundtrack for her creativity to flow.

“I go through moods with what music I’m listening to in the shed,” Jodi says.

“Sometimes when I do commissions, like the sentimental ones or a memorial piece, I’ll ask the client what sort of music the person listened to. If they say ‘Nina Simone’ I’ll say ‘okay, well that’s what I’m listening to’.”

sculptureontheedge.com.au