Crafting Hellcats from Hay Bales

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WELLSVILLE - The middle of a hayfield is the last place you'd expect to find a work of art. But these Picassos of the pasture have a point. Each bale is a blank canvas. It's grass graffiti that turned hay bales into a Hellcat.

"You wouldn't think you could paint a hay bale and make it look like you did it on a canvas," Doyle Ragsdell, a hay bale painter, said.

Preparing it can call for some odd materials, like Plexiglass and a Styrofoam head.

"Did the guys at the hardware store think you were nuts?" John Scott, another hay bale sculptor, said.

Nuts who used hay to build a Hellcat a World War II era plane that's 33-feet-long. The field team had to design a mini suspension bridge just to hold the weight of the more than four thousand pounds of hay bales that make up the body.

"The tires I got from a fella here in town. They're donut tires out of cars," Bill McClain, another hay bale sculptor, said. "I asked the electric department if they could put the little balls up on the wires."

People routinely stop to give props to the Hellcat, but what passersby don't know is the motivation behind McClain's masterpieces. Masterpieces like a steam engine, a St. Bernard and a teddy bear at Christmas.
When McClain's wife passed away these projects kept him going.

"She was always the crafty one and she would probably have her own ideas to put in their plan. It's great to see him happy is great," Linda Brace, McClain's daughter said.

"I think it kind of relieves all of the serious stuff going on in the world," Ragsdell said.

"It's just something we enjoy doing and i see no reason to stop at this point," McClain said.

So the next time you see a farmer hauling hay it just might be a pasture Picasso who found heaven in a hellcat.