Steve Hazlett believes that folk art in its truest sense is an expression of the common people depicting their life and beliefs. It is never the product of art movements but comes out of craft traditions. He wants to carry on this folk craft tradition and present his work much like these artists did from the past.
Hazlett designs, handcrafts, and paints weathervanes, whirligigs, and signs in the true folk-art tradition. He starts with 100-plus-year-old heart pine salvaged from outbuildings and barns built during the 19th Century in upstate New York, incorporating antique copper, tin, and iron into the work. He uses chisels, draw knives, handsaws, and carving knives to handcraft each piece.
To re-create the finish of antique work, Hazlett decorates his pieces with buttermilk paint, which was widely used in early America after 1800, made from various milk derivatives and earthen ingredients. In his painting style he tries to produce an as-found original interpretation of the object by applying traditional colors in numerous layers and using techniques to age the finish and cause discoloration, yellowing, and the accumulation of surface dirt and embedded grime on the object.
To mimic the work of the past, he gives his pieces a somewhat primitive and crude appearance, relying on his interpretation of 19th-Century objects based on historical information. While the work lacks defined detail, he tries to visually project a sense of humor or statement depending on the piece and subject matter at hand.
Artists appearing in the 20201 Directory of Traditional American Crafts have been selected, and the best of their handiwork has been photographed at Cedar Grove, an 18th Century house museum operated by the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Look for the Directory in our August 2021 issue.
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