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Near-blind Ontario sculptor wins fans after daughter's post

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A small-town Ontario sculptor, who only sees shapes and certain colours, has amassed an enthusiastic online following after his daughter posted photos of his art online.

"My almost entirely blind father sculpts dragons, dinosaurs, and gargoyles out of scrap metal," explained Jennifer Gray (j3nnyt4li4) in a post that made the front page of Reddit, a wildly popular social news site.

"He asked me if I could put pictures on [Facebook] to show friends, so I did him one better."

Jennifer's album "Dad's Art" has generated more than 6,350,000 views since she posted it on Tuesday. The thread beneath her Reddit post is flush with people admiring her father's talent and clamouring for a custom-made sculpture.

The CBC community tracked down the young woman behind the online alias, and found out that her father, John Gray, lives about an hour north of Toronto in Innisfil, Ontario.

"He's never had exposure like this!" said Jennifer. "He wants to read every comment individually."

The recently graduated Ryerson student said her dad was already impressed by 3,000 views soon after the post went live.

"I was pretty overwhelmed to tell you the truth," John told CBC News.

The sculptor is now working on a full-size metal band of instrument playing monsters at the moment, said Jennifer, but she is not sure her father could accommodate the large number of requests she has received online.

Her father has done a few commissioned pieces, but likes to work at his own pace and mostly sees his art as a hobby.

John said some of the larger works have taken him up to 80 hours to complete, but if the piece is small and he knows the pattern, he can get one done in 8 hours.

"I wish I had better pictures of some of them, but my dad's photography skills are a little out of focus at times," she joked in the thread.

Jennifer explained that her dad has been legally blind his whole life, but that his condition defies textbook diagnoses.

"He has one or two per cent vision left," she said. "He sees shapes and certain colours at certain angles."

John likes to work with scrap aluminum because it is very easy to bend and shape it, but he does struggle with painting and sometimes he slips up around sharp edges.

"He's had some cuts and scraps here and there but nothing that would take him to the ER," said Jennifer.

Many commenters had questions about his technique, as his works are incredibly detailed.

"He's literally just good with his hands," Jennifer responded. "My family has tried to figure out how he's done it for years."

When asked if he had ever considered starting a website to sell his art, John said he'd never thought about it before.

"But who knows now?" he said. "It seems I'm pretty popular!"

The CBC Community team asked Jennifer to pass along a few more pictures from her father's files that didn't make it to Reddit. Feel free to comment on his work below.




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