Horseshoe to Sculpture-the process.

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We have an amazing community of people collecting horseshoes for us so that we can raise funds to help the dogs at Chimney Farm. The horseshoes come to us straight from the horse, dirty, smelly, full of nails, often rusty and with the grooves impacted.

 Rusty shoes arrive ready for cleaning.

We start by removing the nails, which can be tricky if they are very bent, saving them for works like the Cock Robin. Then the grooves are cleaned out with a hammer and chisel and the shoe is given a quick wire brush by hand. Shoes are then sorted into pairs, different sizes, stud holes, particular patterns etc. Sometimes we leave the tabs on and sometimes we need to cut the tabs off depending on what is being made.

Some pieces require a wire frame guide.

A wire framed guide sculpture is made before we go into horseshoes. We had so much interest in the wire work that we have added it to Horseshoes4Hounds.  We cut and weld the shoes together using angles and patterns to achieve shape, form and texture, particular attention is paid to lining the grooves up and using stud holes at certain points to add interest. Its amazing the different sizes,shapes and patterns on the shoes were given, but that’s another post. At this stage the sculpture looks clean and shiny. It isn’t. Frustratingly they will rust. Keeping the work indoors and giving it a regular oiling or waxing will help keep the rust at bay but as these are used shoes they are heavily contaminated nature will take its course. A quality laquer will slow the process for a garden piece but it will rust very slowly underneath. The growing rust is a fascinating changing landscape making the piece look like a bronze in the sunlight.

Ingredients for a Robin

Making a Cockerel

Acid which turns rust black is used for details like eyes.

We use acid to speed up the rusting process if we want to force the rust for a piece. Finished sculpture enjoy an acid bath which is left to dry and then watered before bed. Its always exciting in the morning to look out the window and see what colours and patterns we have got. The process is totally unpredictable and the results often stunning. Details like eyes and legs can be turned black using a different acid. Some work is left natural, some we laquer (because it enhances the finished  work, or like the Robin to provide a contrast. The Robins red breast is not laquered so will rust differently to rest getting redder and redder over time.)

Stunning in the garden.                                                                     Some pieces are forged.


     Grinding to shape.                               Bending the Cheshire Rabbit ears.       Lifelike-Slinky Fox.

A variety of techniques are used to get detail into the finished artwork. Weld is added to create detail and texture or added and ground back to soften joins and edges. We use heat to bend and shape shoes. Its a long, time consuming process but attention to detail gives the bird or animal a life and personality all of its own.

It’s also a very dirty job.

                Find out more about Chimney Farm here

Categories: Blog entry

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