Tuscola resident Jim Beeson has a passion for fly fishing, and it shows in his work. The artist creates unique flies and hardwood nets that not only are decorative pieces but functional as well.
Q: How long have you been creating? How did you get into making your creations?
A: I have been creating hardwood nets for fly fishing since 2004. I was introduced to fly tying and fly fishing when my dad gave me a fly-tying kit when I was about 8 years old. I took it up later in life after my children began college, and I have 22 years’ experience now. I started trout fishing in the Missouri Ozarks and have traveled to Arizona, Wisconsin and Michigan pursuing fish on a fly rod.
I learned fly tying from a local fly fisherman back in the 1950s. He taught me the basics of the art of fly fishing and fly tying at his home study. His adventures to Wisconsin in May to fly fish for brown trout were inspirational. Hunting also intrigued me, and I would use feathers from pheasant and fur from rabbits I had harvested.
Q: What was your first piece? What inspired you to create it?
A: My first piece was a trout net that was a kit. I figured if I could put a kit together, I would investigate and learn the art of building my own completely. I made several small 7-inch handle nets and began wood burning on them. Inspired by a fellow fly fisherman, I put scenes of May flies, fish and other embellishments on them.
Q: Describe your creative process.
A: I create flies usually during the afternoon. I have a spare bedroom I converted into a fly-tying area equipped with feathers, tools, beads, thread and a variety of other man-made materials. Hardwood nets are created in my garage, where I have a band saw, sander, drill and steamer to steam hoops and varnish. I use feathers on nets as well as a woodburning tool. I take pride in the artwork I create.
Q: What drew you to your chosen medium?
A: When I was a child, I had a great interest in insects. I collected butterflies and insects, and labeled them and studied them. Watching my father fly fish kept my interest in what fish eat and how a person could catch them. My background is Scottish, Irish and English. A lot of our history in fly fishing came from our heritage in Scotland and England.
Q: What is your favorite part of the creative process? What is your least favorite part?
A: I enjoy coming up with a new pattern that works or inventing ways to use accessories of fly fishing. There are endless possibilities. I am excited about creating and talking about some aspect of fly tying or net making. Some people are not near as interested in a lost art form. I would say that is a drawback. In other parts of the country, it is a livelihood.
Q: What keeps you inspired/what inspires you?
A: I keep inspired by reading up on fly fishing. My aspiration is to continue to help others learn the art form of fly tying or net making and fly fishing, and to interest younger people in my endeavor.
Q: What do you do when you’re not making art?
A: I have been married almost 16 years . My wife and I are basically retired. I am a volunteer in my church; we attend small groups. I encourage people to live a full Christian life and help others succeed in life’s adventures. I am a member of VFW and also a commander of TK Martin post 10009. We try to help veterans as they return to work and civilian life, and we maintain a presence and membership in our community.
Don’t forget to visit Vintage Karma to check out Jim’s Featured Artist display!