turns hobby into business
SMITHFIELD, Ky. The Curiosity Shop is located in Smithfield Ky.,
just down the road from Our Best Restaurant and across from the post
by Laraine Staples
Bryant poses beside one of his dollhouse creations at his Curiosity
shop in Smithfield, Ky. Bryand began making various wooden objects
after being downsized out of his corporate job a few years ago.
His handiwork can be seen outside the Oldham County History Center
in La Grange, Ky., in the form of a miniature train, steamboat
and antique truck.
The house and garage are surrounded by a white picket
fence. Everything is in its place and so well cared for. This is the
home and shop of Les and Cindy Bryant.
It looks like a dollhouse inside and out. Les Bryant always enjoyed
creating things and working with wood. He refinishes furniture and enjoys
building dollhouses and miniatures.
A few years back when he lost his job to corporate downsizing, he and
his wife, Cindy, found it necessary to downsize as well.
"We sold our large house in La Grange and moved out here where,
as usual, the wife fell in love with the house and the husband with
the garage," said Bryant. "I moved my tools to a shop in the
back of the garage and started refinishing furniture."
He rented space at the Antique Ranch in Ballardsville for about 2 1/2
years before downsizing again and moving everything into the garage.
The shop is mostly filled with stuff Bryant enjoys collecting, such
as dollhouses, stained glass windows, hand-painted cupboards and benches,
bookcases, an artist's easel, hand-poured gypsum plaster figures, mahogany
reproductions and unique lawn furniture and ornamental concrete.
His most fun and largest piece in the garage is a Model T Ford. It's
a Model T frame and engine, but the front seat is two leather chairs
from his wife's office, and he made the fenders for it.
It is a great conversational piece and might remind one of the Chitty
Chitty Bang Bang. But Bryant says, "It runs great!"
Bryant's latest endeavors have been for the La Grange Historical Society.
When he read about the History Museum being built last year, he contacted
Patricia Michael, the society's executive director, to see if they would
be interested in one of his dollhouses.
They agreed to display it. Patricia asked him if he could create other
wooden sculptures. He did, resulting in his creations of a steamboat,
train and farm truck, which today sit outside in the museum yard.
The theme for the museum is transportation - "Moving ahead in time."
The structures were originally set on the ground, but later he created
the big steel pedestals so that they could be better displayed and so
no one would be hurt playing on them.
Bryant is currently working on a sign that hung on the Interurban Train
Depot in La Grange. The depot has been torn down, but a replica is on
display in the museum.
The Interurban Depot served the Louisville and Eastern Electric Railroad
from 1901-1911. The sign was believed to have been removed in the 1930s
and then used by the Abbott Brothers.
It measures 10 feet by two feet and is constructed of porcelain on steel.
On the left side is inscribed, "FE Wagner AM National Bank Building,
Louisville, KY." On the right side, it reads, "Groute Brich
Paint, Finnish work, Beaver Falls, PA."
Bryant chose to build a picture frame-type display that looks like a
train track to house the sign so that both the front and back side of
the sign can be viewed.
"He has been a pleasure to work with," said Michael. "We
are very fortunate to have access to his talents."
Bryant is also working on the dollhouse for a private collector in Eminence,
Ky. The collector's father built the house for her when she was a child,
and Bryant is refinishing and repairing it.
"You should see the miniature antique furniture she has to go into
it," said Bryant. "It's amazing."
To view Bryant's work, visit the Oldham County History Museum,
106 N. Second Ave., La Grange, Ky.
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