Jeff Best of Clare, MI has always had an artistic side of him just waiting to burst out. As owner of Best Outdoors, he’s spent his days since 2003 manufacturing industry leading ATV and tractor oriented planter and soil preparation equipment for the outdoor enthusiast. His work has allowed anyone with an ATV to hook up one of his lightweight, durable cultipackers and plant a professional garden or food plot. As a business owner and father, his never ending responsibilities have kept him from watering the seed of artistic creativity that was planted within him long ago. Until now, that is.
The frozen ground has slowed the planting business to a halt until spring. Jeff has taken this time to unleash the artist inside with his unique, barbed wire sculptures. He’s been bending and twisting re-claimed barbed wire into life-size, outdoors inspired creations. He’s crafted an elk head and a non-typical whitetail buck shoulder mount. He’s done a trio of landing ducks, a rooster and a European style whitetail skull and rack.
“I love the whitetail deer form so much that at one time I made a couple small deer sculptures out of coat hangers that my kids took to school each year for their “show and tell” events,” said Jeff. “Once, one of their teachers told them that “Your dad couldn’t have made that!” Right then I decided I was going to make a large one to prove her wrong. It only took me 20 years to finally do this.”
This life-sized bull elk mount was crafted entirely from re-claimed barbed wire by Jeff Best. He does his work entirely freehand.The recycled and repurposed barbed wire that Jeff uses gives his sculptures a depth that can’t be found on anything shiny. It adds character to the creations. Bent barbs and rusty wire are woven into pieces that embody the rugged and beautiful farm lands of Clare County that Jeff calls home. Every inch of his sculptures are made from fencing that has retired from its duties holding up horses and cattle in Clare. What used to stretch across the rolling hills of Pioneer Country as working wire, is now given a second chance and a new purpose.
“Since I’m a hunter and roam the farm fields and brushy fence lines during the hunting season, I come across plenty of rolled up wire,” said Jeff. “Farmers are more than happy to let me take everything they have…typically,” he added.
If there ever was a mold for this kind of art, Jeff has broken it. Everything he does is completely freehand. Therefore, no two creations will ever be the same. Jeff uses photos and his own taxidermy mounts as a guide. He’s been busting big bucks for years, so he has plenty of trophies to help make sure the sizes and proportions are right. His eyes and hands work together and his love for the outdoors is the driving force behind Best Outdoors Barbed Wire Sculpting.
“Like many, there is just something in me that draws me to the outdoors,” said Jeff. “I love to hunt however just spending time in a tree as nature wakes up and goes to sleep is very therapeutic for me,” he added.
Jeff offers these unique pieces for sale and he also has some art galleries handling his artwork. Damselfly Studio and Gallery in Midway, KY has even expressed interest in his “Barbie Art”. He plans to do several art shows this summer to gauge the interest in his creations. Jeff and his barbed wire sculptures can be found on Facebook at Best Outdoors- Barbed Wire Sculpting.