The Blacksmith as an Artist
3:22 pm
Thu January 26, 2012

Creating Art from Unwanted Metal

Most  people who come across an abandoned car or discarded washing machine  see a piece of junk. Matt  Myers sees opportunity.

"There's an old car parked behind  the shop here," Myers said at his studio, Black Toad Forge, which  is just west of Macomb.

"I  don't see that like most people,  who see an old car. I see it as a pile  of metal that I can cut  apart and turn into anything I want."

Myers  was originally a painter, but  found himself drawn more and more  to sculpting. He studied  blacksmithing and metalsmithing at Western  Illinois University after  coming to Macomb a decade ago, and he  applies those techniques to his  sculptures.

"The way that  I work is really no different than a  blacksmith who was making  swords for the Roman army," Myers said. "I  have some power tools  that he didn't have. But the techniques and the  majority of the  tools are the same."

In addition to sculptures,  Myers makes  jewelry, bowls, ladles, and much more. He tries to use  recycled  and re-purposed materials as much as possible.

"Blacksmiths  are the original recyclers. You always use everything you can. When  the  scraps get small enough that you can't use them anymore, you  can melt  them down and make more. You can use everything," Myers  said.

Myers  also has set up beehives in his backyard. He  separates the wax from the  honey, then melts the wax with linseed  oil and other ingredients to  create a finish for the metal.

Myers  is one of more than a dozen artists who will be featured in the  new exhibit "Reduced, Re-mused, Recycled" at the West  Central Illinois Arts Center on the east side of Macomb's courthouse  square. All the artists use recycled and re-purposed materials  in their work.

The exhibit opens Wednesday, April 6 in conjunction  with the closing reception for Western Illinois University's 8th Annual  Environmental Summit.  The reception takes place at the arts  center from 6:00pm to 8:00pm.  It's free and open to the public.  The event will include live music and a  show of sustainable fashions.

The  art exhibit will remain on display at the WCIAC through May 14.