Metal serves as inspiration to artist

Leftover sunflower oil barrels used in making her mom’s salad dressing transformed into canvas

Amber Denison with farm dog Danda at Little Creek Gardens.

Amber Denison with farm dog Danda at Little Creek Gardens.

Little Creek Gardens not only creates delicious salad dressings and organic greens, it also cultivates beautiful artists.

Donna Denison and Dale Ziech became locavorian food celebrities after combining Dale’s organic salad greens business with Donna’s remarkable salad dressings. Their visually stunning family farm on the westside of Okanagan Lake is special — not only fertile; there is creative magic in that soil. Twin daughters Amber and Kerisa Denison are testament to that — both girls have spread their artistic wings.

Metal artist Amber Denison’s inspiration manifested during the stressful final year-end project assignment at the visual arts program at The University of British Columbia. Her professor introduced her to a metal cutting torch and that sparked her interest. With no budget left for materials, she began foraging on the family farm for a metal canvas and discovered the leftover sunflower oil barrels used in making her mom’s salad dressing. In the end, the combination of farm girl’s thrift, a family’s eco-friendly recycling philosophy and an eye for seeing beauty in discarded metals — she transformed the barrels into stunning lanterns and received raves on her final assignment.

Now enthralled with this exciting new art genre, Amber was soon introduced to a plasma cutter that eventually became her choice of tools. This cutter uses compressed air blown at high speed out of a nozzle; at the same time an electrical arc is formed from the nozzle to the surface being cut, turning a portion of the pushed air into plasma. The result is clean lines and much more control in her precise craft.

Amber loves to create large pieces and will be headed for the gallery world soon. Her passion is evident in her work.

“I love the look of metal. It’s rough but still earthy. It’s challenging too. My art is about creating beauty from something other people see as garbage.”

She virtually lit up when explaining her visits to the Knox Mountain scrap metal yard to source canvas materials, “I love going there — it’s like paradise!”

Metal art is already a popular medium in hip art communities like L.A. Amber feels that “it’s on the brink of becoming a poplar medium here.” Watch for this girl — she is an extreme talent.

PS: If you are one of the few who have never tasted Little Creek Gardens Salad Dressings, you are in for a treat! Now offering four varieties, including the mouth-watering original — there is absolutely nothing like it.




Jennifer Schell is the editor of B.C. Food and Wine Trails magazine.