I took a trip to Smith & Edwards Superstore this morning, where the motto is “We Have Everything You Need… If We Can Find It.” It began as a military surplus store in 1947, and while it has expanded out to hunting and gun supplies, fishing and camping, hardware, housewares and various bargain store bric-a-brac, the military surplus remains an anchor. Not only is there the standard assortment of uniform pieces, tents, and mess kits, not only do they have a terrific assortment of unmarked mystery hardware, but they have… the yard.
In a fenced area several acres wide, there are racks and pallets and stacks of military surplus equipment, dating back almost to the beginning of the company. Much of it has sat in the elements so long that cardboard boxes have dissolved, wood has weathered and warped, and iron has rusted to a bright orange. For someone who is getting into assemblage art, it’s an embarrassment of riches — everything is evocative textures and shapes. I didn’t bring home anything from the yard (I was only on a fact-finding and imagination-hopper-filling mission), but I could set up shop in there and do nothing but churn out interesting pieces from old wood and metal.
The main reason I went there was to find an appropriate box to be the case for the latest creature on which I’m working. I was hoping for something metal — an old toolbox or first aid kit, perhaps — but settled for a plastic military first aid case in terrific condition.
I don’t have any new creatures to show you, but here’s the ambitious work in progress of what will eventually be that box’s inmate: