Jeff Barrett has been an artist for most of his life. He spent the 1980's and 1990's working in a well-known art glass studio in Denver, Colorado. After 20 years there, Barrett and his wife Cindy decided that it was time to make a change, so they moved to a remote piece of land along the Colorado-New Mexico border, where Barrett established his own business; Whistling Bird Designs, which specialized in folky wood carvings and sculpture.
After a 10-year stint in the southwestern hinterlands, the Barretts decided to make another move, this time to rural Maine. Along with their three dogs and five cats, they settled just outside of Belfast, in Maine's midcoast. Here, Jeff Barrett continues to create his fabulous wood carvings and sculptures, but with new-found inspiration from the Maine coast.
Using recycled wood from barns and sheds, along with found objects such as old bed parts and hand-forged metal, Barrett crafts each piece, one at a time. His folky creations are his versions of antique paintings and vintage weathervanes. Some of Barrett's pieces act as theater sets, with fish, birds, dogs and cats, whales, and ships standing in as the actors. Recently, Barrett has begun making what he calls "aquariums," glass-fronted cases containing a private sea of "happy" fish, crabs, lobsters, and other critters. Of his work, Barrett says: "To top it all off, I have a great time making my folk art pieces and I hope you enjoy them too!"