The Fence Post Shaman Project – Part 1: Copper Shaman

My mother passed away at the beginning of the COVID lockdown. Life as I had known it had changed radically. There were no more restaurant trips, lingering over dessert. No wandering around the used bookstore discovering hidden treasures. And yet, life had not changed nearly as much for me. I had worked from home before so that was no real change. I tended to be a hermit and spent a lot of time exploring the land around our home in Placitas.

I sought solace on my morning walks and tried to find some sort of sense to things. I had created a particular route on my walk that took me along the edge of our lot. A line of old fence posts made from tree branches stood watch from the rise above the house. The posts were gnarled and each seemed to have its own personality.

I don’t remember now what exactly sparked the idea, but I thought it would be neat to turn one of the fence posts into a shaman figure. We already had a shaman sculpture that guarded the front door. We also had an owl-raven spirit sculpture in the courtyard.

Metal shaman figure with deer head and antlers holding a spear and staff with an owl.
Commissioned steel spirit sculpture with owl head and raven and owls engraved in the body. By Jim Holley of Placitas.

So one Saturday after walking by the fence posts, I decided to see what I could make. Since there could be no trips to town I had to use what I had on hand. I had found a particularly interesting and curved smaller dried branch on one of my walks and I thought that would make excellent arms. For the head I used an old plant coaster and covered it with a thin sheet of self-stick copper foil with two small sticks glued on the back for horns. I wasn’t sure about the best way to attach the arms so I used 16 gauge wire. This gave me the added benefit of being able to shift the arms. I screwed the head onto the post with a couple of screws from my jar of leftover screws and nails from various previous projects.

And copper shaman was born on May 23, 2020!

Copper shaman made of an old fence post, curved tree branch, copper coated plant coaster and wire.

This post was powered by two cups of Maja’s Yet She Persisted Tea by Loose Leaf Women purchased at Whimsy in Old Town Albuquerque.