To hear Dick and Shirley Shoesmith talk about their eclectic mix of hobbies and collections is one thing. To actually see them, is well — impressive, to say the least.
It seems as if nearly every nook and cranny in their Perry home is filled with either their handcrafted artwork or antique treasures they’ve collected over the years. There are Dick’s elaborate and intricately made matchstick models, from tiny ducks and fire trucks with moving parts to the magnificent Mississippi Riverboat, which boasts the most matchsticks of any of Dick’s projects: 2,615. Shirley creates quilts and paints, and her paintings are found throughout their home, from bedrooms and along stairways.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Dick began making matchstick models about five or six years ago, needing something “a little more challenging” than the wooden ship models he has been building for about 34 years. For his first matchstick project, he ordered a kit out of a hobby magazine. The replica of the Chrysler Building took him about 20 hours and about 850 matchsticks, he says, as he points out the stats on a pad of paper where he’s listed most of his completed projects and the amount of time and number of matchsticks for each.
“It’s one of those kinds of therapy,” he says of the intricate hobby. “It’s a good way to spend the time, and it’s constructive.”
Dick buys the matchsticks in the thousands from a hobby shop in Chicago. He follows plans for most of the things he makes, using tools including a single-edge razor blade and tweezers.
The toughest thing, he says, is “keeping your fingers out of the way so you don’t cut them.”
Shirley quilts and paints, using various media, including watercolor, china and oil. She not only enjoys her hobbies, but likes trying and learning how to do new things. “I’ve probably tried every craft there was,” Shirley says.
The two also like to go antiquing, and boast many different collectibles. Dick’s collections include Boy Scout handbooks, Santa Clauses and snowmen. Shirley likes to collect buttons and certain types of glassware.
“You see something and think, ‘It would be nice to have one of those,’ ” Dick says, “and then all of the sudden you’ve got more of them.”