Whether it’s working with soft, pliable leathers and delicate beads, or hard intractable iron, the Todd family knows how to bend the materials at hand into beautiful, high-quality works of functional art.
The Todds — parents Barbara and Lorne and sons Tim and Bill — is the name of the latest exhibit on display at Donalda Art Gallery, and will be available for viewing until Aug. 14. Barbara’s work is part in acrylics — landscapes and buildings — and part textile — beading work on hand-made moccasins. The men in the Todd family all work with metal, which is also displayed.
“I’ve been painting about 40 years,” Barbara Todd said. “Lorne’s aunt took me to her art club in Bashaw and that’s how I got started. I kinda had a knack for it.”
She said she decided to only do landscapes and buildings, “pictures that mean something to someone.”
Her husband and children are Métis, and to honour their heritage and keep it in the family, she became involved with the Métis Association of Alberta. There, she learned to make traditional clothing like the moccasins, as well as beading. Now, she mostly makes baby moccasins, though she also makes other items, and has been hand-making items for about 15 years.
“All of my grandchildren have a pair,” she said.
Son Tim has spent the last decade-and-a-half working with metal, making objects like gates and signs.
“He’s always made metal signs,” his mother said. “Farm signs, business signs.”
It was about a year ago that Lorne and son Bill got involved with forge-work, and have since installed a forge at their home where they do their work.
“Lorne has always been handy making things out of objects like horseshoes,” Barbara Todd said. “(He and Bill) do ironworks at the forge, both functional, ornamental (and a combination).”
The family displays and sells their work on Facebook under the name Buffalo Lake Creations, a mix of Western and Native arts, custom gates and signs, and decorative metal works. From boot racks to benches, art to garden decorations, the forge, paintbrush, and sewing needle keep busy.