Mr. Smith’s Peach Seeds by Stewart Copeland (Video)

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Summary: The story of Roger Smith who ate a peach during a break from work in 1968. When he was finished he took out a pocketknife and began carving the peach pit into a tiny pig. 43 years later the retired meter reader and cattle rancher from Culloeka, Tennessee has carved hundreds of peach seeds into hummingbirds, gospel choirs, entire villages, even a baseball stadium with 100+ figures.

It takes a rare sort of person to find faces in fruit seeds. Roger Smith creates them himself. This retired Tennessee farmer has been carving peach pits into miniature sculptures since 1968, and in 2012, he served as the subject of Stewart Copeland’s award-winning short documentary.

Over the course of the years, Mr. Smith has whittled hundreds of intricate, painted people and animals out of peach seeds, and they populate the film’s story like characters themselves. His first quirky masterpiece was a peach-pit pig, carved with a pocket knife over 40 years ago. Since then, Smith has made peach creatures from every walk of life—giraffes, owls, old women in rocking chairs, hunched men in tuxedos, even an entire baseball stadium, complete with players and fans alike.

Despite all the colorful carved characters begging for screentime, Mr. Smith’s Peach Seeds never strays from simplicity—that’s part of its charm. Sincere and knowing, the short film depicts a man who simply does what makes him happy.

When not admiring the lovely little details of Smith’s works, the camera lingers soft and warm on the yellow grass and rusting trucks of rural Tennessee. The film’s languid yet vivid visuals pair well with the artist’s voice-over storytelling. When Roger Smith speaks, you listen, and that gentle deep voice feels like early morning sun on summer skin. With a long, half-smiling face and long southern drawl, his humble narration grounds the documentary’s inevitable whimsy with a down-to-earth gravitas.

mr smith's peach seeds stadium

Even as his work demands attention from art shows and festivals around the world (even ending up as an ornament on the White House Christmas tree), Smith doesn’t think of himself as a “real” artist. “I think anybody could do what I do,” he says, as the camera zooms in on the minute features of a peach-seed person. “It may be a little unusual, but they just haven’t taken the time to try it.”

From start to finish, Copeland’s sun-drenched short will make you smile, make you sigh, make you see a bit of brilliance in something as small and ordinary as peach pit.

Available to watch FREE online by PBS Indies.

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