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About Alta

My grandmother, Alta Ethilda Barnhart was born in 1904. Making something out of nothing was her specialty. Being the wife of a carpenter who farmed on the side certainly helped her develop that skill! I remember she made the coolest long tube beads from rolled newspaper, coated them with glue and painted them. Then she strung them on thread and hung them from the kitchen window. I've never seen anything like it since! She even wrote a song that the late Dinah Shore recorded on a demo record.


I'm so glad I inherited my creative abilities from her and followed her example of hard work, determination, and perfection. I think of her when I make my mobiles, jewelry and chimes. I love the silver plate I work with. It reminds me of the luncheon set Park Lane by Oneida that she gave me when I left for college. It was tarnished black and beautiful blue tri-fold case. She told me she bought it from a traveling junk man in 1924. In those days, "junk men" would travel from town to town and buy, sell and swap things to make money.


Today, I use a variety of tools to bring my creations to life including a band saw with cooling system, pliers, rotay tools, bench vice, drill press, rubber and metal hammers, hydraulic press, and a small anvil. Materials used include fishing line, beads, glue, buttons, washers, and all types of silver serving pieces and flat ware. I've learned to use a Dremel with a cutting wheel to carve my materials to create sharks, puffer fish, guppies, grouper, whales, piranha, and angelfish. I can be found in my basement studio listening to talk shows, opera, classical, alternative, new wave or country while I carefully de-burr, buff and polish all edges. Some pieces I completely refurbish, but mostly I find I enjoy the patina the pieces have acquired over the decades. I also carefully choose items by weight for a finished product. Varying weights, produce varying tones and the results are delightfully musical.

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