Scrap Iron Sculpture

Rural Kansas man makes yard art from scrap iron.

| November 1998

John Scott doesn't paint his sculptures

John Scott doesn't paint his sculptures. The rust tones, he said, "bring out the shadows and light better." The rich brown is reminiscent of bronze used in more traditional sculptures.

Photo by G. Wayne Walker Jr.

For most people, "Turkey Day" comes once a year. For a rural Kansas man, though, it's just another day at the office. John Scott, Bunker Hill, Kan., crafts yard art from scrap iron. His top seller? A turkey, made from tractor seats and the working end of a pitchfork.

"I've probably made 300 of them," he said.

The turkey joins a variety of other critters - egrets, frogs, turtles, grasshoppers, crickets, snails, roosters, pheasants, even Jayhawks - that John sells nationwide. It is a lucrative business for a man who's worked in the scrap metal recycling business (both as a dealer and a craftsman) for the past 10 years.

"Half of my income comes from the sculptures," he said. "And with the price of scrap dropping to $35 a ton (from $75 a ton) in the last four months, that really makes me appreciate what I can make from them."

Now a significant part of his livelihood, the yard art began as little more than a hobby.

"I met this fellow in a tavern," he said. "He was really kind of a hobo, but he said he was a sculptor. Well, I thought he meant clay, but no, he works with scrap metal. I had always dabbled with scrap iron, and the more we talked, the more interested I got. So I brought him home with me and handed him the welder. Well, as I watched, I couldn't wait for him to lay that welder down."