Meet Your Neighbor: Jerald McNutt

Jerald McNutt dabbles in art these days.

He makes jewelry. He makes art with glass. He makes bracelets from silverware. And it all started about five years ago.

McNutt, now a member of the Winchester Art Guild, was working in the guild’s shop on North Main Street when he recently sat down with the Winchester Sun to talk about his art.

Winchester Sun: “How long have you been in Winchester?

Jerald McNutt: Since 1985. I moved here with Sylvania and have been here ever since. I retired from Sylvania.

WS: How long have you been making jewelry?

JM: I graduated from Murray State and I have a minor in art and jewelry. I didn’t do anything with it. My brother-in-law came along and said we need to get a booth for the Pioneer Festival. I said, “Doing what?” He said, “Building birdhouses.” So I went ahead and got a booth and we didn’t build birdhouses. I ended up making jewelry. After it was over, I looked into joining the Guild. It’s progressed. I’ve added something different every year I’ve been in. It started out with jewelry and I went to mostly spoon rings and bracelets. Then I added paracord, bottles with lamps and as wind chimes. I started adding the glass. It’s like sea glass but I make it. I take glass of any kind, break it up and put it in a tumbler. Two weeks brings about the best results. I used to do a lot of woodworking, but there are a lot of good woodworkers in here. I let them do it.

WS: Where do you find the material you use?

JM: A lot of people just give me bottles, once they find out I’m doing stuff. Red is the hardest to find. They’l come along and give you blue, green, clear. You generate a lot of your own bottles. The green is Ale-8 bottles. The majority of everything you see that’s green comes from Ale-8.

WS: There is a nautical theme in a lot of your work.

JM: I’m a sailor. I was on the USS John F. Kennedy. I was a plank owner, one of the first crew. I was there 1967 to 1971. I worked on the flight deck.

WS: Did the jewelry come first and then the glass are?

JM: Yes. My daughter came in and said, ‘I’ve got something you can make.’ It started out with spoon rings. It looks new, but if you start reading up on spoon rings, that’s what they used to barter with in the 1200s and 1300s. Even slaves were paid in jewelry. If they needed to buy something, here was a solid silver ring and it would be worth something. It’s been around a long time. People will walk up to your booth and say, ‘My mother used to have those. My grandmother had those.’ I have had a person come up and say ‘I have my grandmother’s silver. No one wants to clean it. Will you take it and make rings and something else from it?’ I took it and made a dozen rings and for the men, I made a key ring. You take a handle off a fork, bend it and it hangs on their pockets.”

WS: What else do you make?

JM: I’ll make these bracelets with Kentucky quarters. It’s a quarter horse. If I see something someone’s wearing, I’ll think, ‘Hmm, I can do that’ and I make it.

WS: Did you do art or anything while you were working?

JM: I did but nothing like this. I might make something here or there, but nothing to this scale. I did photography and jewelry in college. My garage is now a shop. It keeps me out of trouble.

WS: Are you looking for new things to make?

JM: Yes. I always like a challenge. Working with the glass was something completely new. One lady stopped me. She had completely redone her bathroom in Florida. She showed me what she had done. She ended up buying six pieces I had done and took them back to Florida. That stroked my ego right there. To think she took my pieces of the ocean to Florida, I thought was pretty neat.