Winging It

Peter Beerits owl

Photograph courtesy Peter Beerits


Peter Beerits, the artist behind the Nervous Nellie’s Jams & Jellies fantasyland, on building a bird.

“This owl began with a copper kettle that’s probably 100 years old. It’s a big, utility kettle, not a fancy one, that I picked up at the Deer Isle dump. I knew I’d eventually make a bird with it because the spout looks like a beak. The wing is the blade of an oar, also from the dump. I cut the feet from a chunk of a Coast Guard cutter hull that I found at a Portland scrapyard. The breast is from a Phippsburg mill that’d been passed from father to son for 200 years. It’s closed now but was my source for wood for a long time.

“When I got out of art school in the 1980s, I had no way to make a living, so I started a jam and jelly business, which was a crazy thing to do. I stuck some sculptures outside from my master’s thesis show, and eventually I sold them all, so I made a few more. Now, I have piles of scrap metal and other things all over the place. I have in excess of 60 sculptures and several buildings that I built with scrap wood and old doors and windows. I thought I’d be selling jams at fancy stores in New York, but people come here, enjoy the sculptures, and buy jams and jellies.”

Peter Beerits explains his bird sculptures on May 18, 2–3 p.m., at Nervous Nellie’s Jams & Jellies (598 Sunshine Rd., Deer Isle; 207-348-6182;), part of the Wings, Waves & Woods birding festival, May 18–20 (207-348-2455).

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