Welder makes art out of horseshoes
Kevin Bartel of Hillsboro is a welder by trade but an artist by chance.
One weekend, while home from his job as a millwright, he was looking for something to do. He spotted a few horseshoes lying around his garage and got the idea of using them to make letters and words.
Using his welder, he cut some of the horseshoes and shaped letters in his wife’s name.
When asked how she reacted when he presented the wall sign to her, Jamie said, “That’s a hard one. I didn’t know what he was doing, and I guess I was surprised. I haven’t hung it yet.”
When he replaced the porch posts of his house with metal posts, he wanted something to dress them up. He fashioned the letters of the word “WELCOME” and attached them vertically to one of the posts.
As he got ideas for other things he could make, Bartel purchased more horseshoes from a farm supply store.
He has created a coffee-cup holder, a drink cup holder, and a cowboy hat holder. He uses pony-sized horseshoes to create cardholders. Just inside his front door, a coat hanger made of horseshoes is mounted on the wall next to his front door.
After Bartel fits items together and welds them, he usually paints them. Sometimes, he applies a clear coat to keep the natural look but slow down the rusting process.
When Bartel started getting requests for his work, the first he completed was from his mother, who wanted a WELCOME sign like his for the front of her house. She wanted plain letters that would naturally rust. He has created name signs for several other relatives and a jewelry holder for a sister-in-law.
Bartel created a Chisholm Trail Outfitters sign that owner Craig Dodd displays at his booth at gun shows. Dodd wants Bartel to make a wine holder for him. Bartel displays his artwork for sale at Dodd’s store. Bartel offers a brochure and takes orders.
When he sells something, he makes another one like it. A customer from Oklahoma recently bought a cup holder that he sandblasted and powder-coated to spread the paint more evenly and produce a longer-lasting finish.
However, Bartel said he’s not in it for the money. It’s a rewarding hobby.
“I like to weld, and having to come up with different ways to make letters is a challenge,” he said. “There are still more ways to make them. It’s a brain teaser, and it gives me something to do on weekends.”
Last modified Jan. 14, 2015