Trouser Trophies


Shae Freeman is a sculptor that uses her talents to also create beautiful belt buckles that are pure art. Read on to find out what inspires her and where you can purchase her work.

Belt buckles as art is an interesting idea. How did you get into designing them?

One day I literally decided to make belt buckles! The “long” story: I have this really bad habit of picking up any piece of metal I find on the ground. Shiny, rusty, broken, mystery part- whatever. I also have this really bad habit of taking anything laying on the street apart- TVs, typewriters, clocks, speakers, etc. (This actually started when I was young; except then I was taking apart things in the house, radios, telephones- I never put them back together and always got in trouble!) So, after years of accumulating “treasures” I decided to make belt buckles out of them.

Disco rodeo steel belt buckle

I noticed your buckles have a predominately industrial feel.. What inspires this?

The individual components themselves often dictate what the finished piece will look like. My childhood toys were, in large part, my dad’s tools which I think has had an enormous influence on my predilection for the mechanical. I have been a metal sculptor for nearly 13 years, which involves a great deal of industrial processes.  I also grew up in Minnesota and my childhood memories are littered with images of rusty farm equipment, truck farms (that’s not just a southern thing!), and weird county fairs with threshing contests. Last, but not least, I am one of those artists who are cursed (blessed?) with having to appease both sides of my brain- so the very rigid symmetry and “industrialness” of my buckles act as a foil to my very organic sculptural work.

Cephalopod- cast iron sculpture Cephalopod cast iron sculpture

 You have sculptures for sale in your Etsy shop as well. How does your artwork translate into your accessories?

My sculptural work (as I just mentioned) is in formal contrast to the “utilitarian” objects I make, but I think the treatment of the material remains the same throughout my work, i.e. my particular style is evident in both. The aesthetic that informs both modes of expression is usually concerned with underlying structure, which I think applies, to say, machine gears equally well as the skeletal structure of a coral reef- both reference how stuff works.

Steel ladybug belt buckle


 Simple steel square nail belt buckle

 Where else can we purchase your items?

I used to sell at local boutiques in New Orleans, but because 50% commission went to the retailer, I stopped doing it. However, I do have buckles for sale at Gerken’s bike shop and my sculptures are represented by D.O.C.S. Gallery in New Orleans.  Other than that my Etsy shop is the only place I sell online right now. A personal website keeps getting pushed to the bottom of the list….

 Insignia steel and brass belt buckle

 Define southern style.

I guess my view of ‘southern style’ has been skewed by New Orleans, where people can walk around in slippers and pajamas or full Victorian regalia and nobody thinks twice about it. Another definition of style  refers to the manner in which something is performed or executed. This is what separates the south; the manner in which people do things. It sounds cliche, but people never rush about, are usually friendly, talkative and don’t really panic or stress out about anything. Nothing is too important that it can’t wait, and while this is sometimes frustrating, it also gives one supreme patience. Not slow, but leisurely perhaps is the operative word for southern style.

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