Talented Artist Uses Recycled Metal Scraps to Create Awe-Inspiring Bird and Animal Sculptures

Talented Artist Uses Recycled Metal Scraps to Create Awe-Inspiring Bird and Animal Sculptures
(Courtesy of Leah Jeffery)
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A metal artist is turning found, foraged, and donated scrap metal into beautiful, detailed sculptures of animals that prove one man’s trash really is another’s treasure.

Leah Jeffrey, 23, is a metal artist and metal fabrication shop worker from Georgia who’s been welding sculptures of animals from scraps for four years.

Her interest in this art form began in a high school welding class, which inspired Ms. Jeffrey to pursue a diploma.

“During my second year of welding school, I had some extra time in class,” she told The Epoch Times. “I‘d seen someone make these birds out of spoons, and I thought it’d be cool to try that, so I just started on my first project, my first sculpture, which was a great horned owl. I was like, ‘This is really cool,’ so I just kept making pieces.”

(Courtesy of <a href="https://www.instagram.com/bruised_reed_studio/">Leah Jeffery</a>)
(Courtesy of Leah Jeffery)
(Courtesy of <a href="https://www.instagram.com/bruised_reed_studio/">Leah Jeffery</a>)
(Courtesy of Leah Jeffery)

A self-taught sculptor, Ms. Jeffrey has since created likenesses of animals ranging from birds of prey to horned mammals, to palm-sized critters. She uses scrap metals of any kind except aluminum, which cannot be welded.

“There’s a local bike shop that gives me all their scraps, cutoffs ...  [I also use] random stuff that I find on the road. Basically, if it’s metal I'll use it,” said Ms. Jeffrey, whose creative process begins with the decision of which animal to sculpt and what pose to represent.

(Courtesy of <a href="https://www.instagram.com/bruised_reed_studio/">Leah Jeffery</a>)
(Courtesy of Leah Jeffery)

Some are perched; some are flying, sitting, or lying in repose. She then looks at pictures and videos to study the animal’s form.

“Once I’ve studied it for a bit, I will sketch out an outline on my work table, proportion-wise,” she said. “Then once I’ve got the sketch, I'll just kind of throw out different pieces, silverware, and scraps, and just kind of have it around, and kind of move around the parts and see what I think would look good.”

According to Ms. Jeffrey, a sculpture can take anything between 15 and 50 hours to finish, depending on its size.

Leah Jeffrey with a metal piece that she sculpted. (Courtesy of <a href="https://www.instagram.com/bruised_reed_studio/">Leah Jeffery</a>)
Leah Jeffrey with a metal piece that she sculpted. (Courtesy of Leah Jeffery)

Ms. Jeffrey begins her process by forming the body, saving the more detailed head and facial expression for last. The final step is hanging or mounting the finished sculpture to be photographed and enjoyed.

(Courtesy of <a href="https://www.instagram.com/bruised_reed_studio/">Leah Jeffery</a>)
(Courtesy of Leah Jeffery)
(Courtesy of <a href="https://www.instagram.com/bruised_reed_studio/">Leah Jeffery</a>)
(Courtesy of Leah Jeffery)
(Courtesy of <a href="https://www.instagram.com/bruised_reed_studio/">Leah Jeffery</a>)
(Courtesy of Leah Jeffery)

To date, Ms. Jeffrey’s favorite piece has been that of a peacock sculpture. Sharing the inspiration behind it, she said: “Stained glass was actually the inspiration; somebody gave me a bunch of old stained glass that they had laying around. ... Some of the stained glass was this green and blue, and that made me think of a peacock.”

This, she explained, was one of the larger pieces she’s done, and it has a wide wing span.

(Courtesy of <a href="https://www.instagram.com/bruised_reed_studio/">Leah Jeffery</a>)
(Courtesy of Leah Jeffery)
(Courtesy of <a href="https://www.instagram.com/bruised_reed_studio/">Leah Jeffery</a>)
(Courtesy of Leah Jeffery)

Another piece that makes it to Ms. Jeffrey’s list of favorites is a lion head that she made in her first year of creating sculptures.

“I really captured the life of an animal; like, it looked alive,” she said.

(Courtesy of <a href="https://www.instagram.com/bruised_reed_studio/">Leah Jeffery</a>)
(Courtesy of Leah Jeffery)
(Courtesy of <a href="https://www.instagram.com/bruised_reed_studio/">Leah Jeffery</a>)
(Courtesy of Leah Jeffery)

However, sculpting is not without its challenges for the young artist.

“There will usually come a point, almost in every sculpture, where I‘ll look at it and there’s just something wrong,” she said. “I usually can’t quite pinpoint it, I’ll just have to sit there for a while and stare at it. ... Usually, I'll end up having to tear apart the whole head, or the whole part that I just spent hours on, so that can be kind of a challenge. But I never regret going back and fixing it, because usually it may take several times to tear stuff apart, but it’s always looked better.”

(Courtesy of <a href="https://www.instagram.com/bruised_reed_studio/">Leah Jeffery</a>)
(Courtesy of Leah Jeffery)

Through her experience, Ms. Jeffrey advises novice artists to do the same: fix mistakes, but know when to move on. “Make as many pieces as you can,” she said. “Just keep making them, because with each one you’re going to get better.”

(Courtesy of <a href="https://www.instagram.com/bruised_reed_studio/">Leah Jeffery</a>)
(Courtesy of Leah Jeffery)
(Courtesy of <a href="https://www.instagram.com/bruised_reed_studio/">Leah Jeffery</a>)
(Courtesy of Leah Jeffery)

Ms. Jeffrey finds that sculpting “engages your brain a lot more” than working at a “regular” job. In the four years since starting her metal menagerie, she’s learned how to better represent animal likenesses, and blend different metal scrap materials, such as copper and brass, for more complex, three-dimensional works of art.

“I never thought of art as something I would pursue,” she said. “I thought I’d create stuff that was more practical when I was younger. But, once I started creating sculptures, I started to realize how important art is to people and to culture and society.”

Ms. Jeffrey shares her work on Instagram.

Watch the video:

(Courtesy of Leah Jeffery)
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