Coffee County-- People often get more nostalgic as they grow older, wanting items from the past to remind them of good ole days. But often those reminders have gone away, lost forever, unless you know a special person who can keep memories alive.
Regina Coffee starts with a gray square block of clay, cuts a piece off with a wire, much like you would cut cheese, and then puts the piece on the counter. She then picks up a wooden rolling pin and pushes the square of clay into a thin sheet, much like you would roll out cookie dough.
Regina is rolling out history that requires a lot of patience and a deep love of the past. “It’s just playing to me,” says Regina with the wooden rolling pin in her hand.
She extends the life of old memories that she wants to last forever. “Saving the history I grew up around that I’ve gotten fond memories of,” says Regina with that cube of clay she rolled into a thin sheet.
She uses clay that often seems to have a mind of its own. “You have to fight a little bit with it.” Even with a fight now and then, she prefers clay because of its three-dimensional capability. “I can do so much with the clay,” says Regina, comparing clay’s versatility to wood.
And she does so much with ordinary items. A safety pen cuts the clay, a screwdriver makes flowers. “I get into my husbands tools,” says Regina. A gem clip in her hands makes windows. “I remember grandma having the old curtains hanging in the house,” says Regina as she digs out the clay to make the curtains. Her houses have something special, a sort of trademark.
“I like to be able to see through my houses,”says Regina remembering when houses didn’t have air conditioning and people kept their windows open and curtains pulled back. She has given new life to old houses and barns for the past ten years, learning the craft on her own, while paying attention to historical accuracy.
“Oh, yeah,” says Regina remembering when she asked a high school art teacher so many questions about working with clay. Two toilets, called out houses, sit on a drying shelf waiting for their paint jobs.
Each out house has an old Sears catalog for toilet paper, just like in the good ole days. Her creations spring to life when painted. Regina saw beauty in Nature re-cycling an old house and recreated it. “Once somebody isn’t there anymore, it’s like, OK come on. No one is living there any more,” says Regina looking at her sculpture with most of the roof gone, the porch fallen down, and the red rose bush climbing through the window.
Each original work has fine detail all around. An old country store includes a man sitting on a bench with a dog at his feet by the screened door, a red Coca-Cola icebox on the store’s porch, and a rose bush growing by a pole the supports the roof.
A tree with a tire swing on one side, mop and bucket by the screened back door, a manual gas pump and sign on the other side. She spent 24 hours creating the store, mostly working with the gem clip and paintbrush. She enjoys recreating houses, and all of them have porches. “You’ve always got to have a porch on an old house,” says Regina with a quick smile.
The self-taught artist includes a little humor occasionally, like the preacher standing at the doors of his church. “I think a lot of preachers get too wide because we feed them so well,” says Regina with a laugh.
Her old tobacco barns and houses and churches freeze memories, reminding us the past was a little neater and cleaner and a little better with age. Her e-mail address is: firstname.lastname@example.org or call her at: 912-384-3063.