Guest Blog: Flying High With Scrap Metal


This week’s guest blog is written by Brett McDanel, 35, Oklahoma, USA.

Growing up, a lot of my friends were artists. I’ve always been creative myself but wanted to do something a bit more “bad ass” than pottery or something like that. It’s not that I don’t  like  pottery, it’s just that I’m covered from neck to toe in tattoos, and pottery  just wasn’t  going to happen for me.

One day, I saw a guy beating the hell out of pieces of metal and making his own abstract sculpture, and that’s when it hit me, I knew what I wanted to do.

So I bought a welder, drank too much, and started sticking bits of scrap metal together in my spare time.

Eventually, I got pretty good at welding and making abstract art. At this point, I only did art for peace of mind. It was my yoga. In 2007, I had an accident involving a bottle of whiskey and a plate glass window, which nearly saw me lose my arm. I came to the conclusion that I either needed to stop drinking or stay away from windows.

After I sobered up, I felt free. I felt like a bird flying for the first time. This inspired me to start creating birds out of violent objects such as brass knuckles and hand grenades.



As my mind cleared up, I was more and more intrigued by the human condition, and from there I started building emotive human figures.



That’s pretty much the style I’ve stuck to now, as it allows me to deal with my past, present and future. The people around me are my muse, but suffering in particular seems to be a heavy theme in my work.


brett 3

I’m quite poor, so I only really use cheap or free scrap metal, wood and even stone, but all of it is recycled material.

Although I used to just do art as a kind of therapy, about five years ago, my wife got sick of all the pieces stacking up in the garage and talked me into doing a little show. I sold almost everything I took to the show.

Today, because of a bad car accident, all I do is art. I’m not getting rich but it’s helping to pay the bills here and there, and it’s something I enjoy doing.

My work is on show in a gallery in Oklahoma where I’m from, called Kasum Contemporary Fine Art, and it’s nice to know that people can see my work on public display.

You can find more of Brett’s amazing work, at Left 4 Dead Art and Furniture.

You can also find our previous guest blogs at, Horsing Around with MetalOn the Ball with Metal and Going Ape with Scrap MetalBridging the Gap Between Metal and Art and Hammering Home The Possibilities of Metal

If you’re interested in being a Guest Blogger for The Metal Store feel free to get in touch with us, we’d love to showcase your work!

Facebook: The Metal Store UK
Twitter: @TheMetalStoreUK

Make Your Very Own Chicken Rotisserie


Recently on Channel 4’s Jamie and Jimmy’s Friday Night Feast, the talented Jimmy Doherty demonstrated how to make your very own DIY chicken rotisserie. We loved the idea, so we thought we’d share the idea along for you to try at home.

What You’ll Need

  • Wire mesh sheet 1000 x 1000mm (non-galvanised)
  • Aluminium sheet 500 x 1000mm
  • Fire bricks appox. 15
  • Wire
  • Threaded rod with nuts, bolts and washers
  • BBQ Rotisserie Kit
  • Firewood

What Tools You’ll Need

Personal Protective Equipment

  • Safety Goggles
  • Cut resistant gloves

So how do you make it?

Fortunately, Channel 4 have drawn up instructions on how to recreate Jimmy’s design.




If you’ve followed the instructions correctly, you should now be ready to get roasting your own chicken.DIY_Cooking

The DIY chicken rotisserie would be perfect for the garden during summer, so if you’d like to have a go at making your very own chicken rotisserie, you can find weld mesh on the Metal Store website here and aluminium sheets here.

If you’d like to watch the man himself, Jimmy Doherty, make the rotisserie, you can watch Jamie and Jimmy’s Friday Night Feast on 4oD here – but only for so long!

If you decide to make one, we’d love to see it, so feel free to send us pictures!

Contact us: 

Tel: 01274 875 479

You can also find us on social media:

Facebook: The Metal Store UK
Twitter: @TheMetalStoreUK
Linked In: The Metal Store




Guest Blog: Hammering Home The Possibilities of Metal

This week’s guest blog comes from Melissa Cole, 45, Wiltshire, UK.

melissa 1

Melissa in her forge. Photograph by Mark Somerville.

I started ‘tinkering’ in my Dad – Hector Cole MBE’s – forge and didn’t think there was anything unusual about him having a forge in the back of the garage at home.

I helped out drilling holes for a big pair of gates he was making and ‘played’ in the forge as a teenager, but didn’t really appreciate the whole thing until I went to study for my art degree.  I then realised metal art was what I wanted to do.

During my art degree I used the forge, anvil and hammer to create linear sculptures and I’m still drawn to that simple way of working now, but with a more refined approach focusing on individual hammer marks.

My dad trained me in traditional blacksmithing skills, I learnt to weld from a pro welder and I never thought about what to make when I was designing as I didn’t want to limit myself!

I didn’t want to be a purist blacksmith, nor make knives or weapons; that’s my Dad’s speciality. I always wanted to work with people, so wrote and fundraised for a community art project.

The Arts Council offered to fund my project if I would take my forge into the community and work with young people, encouraging them to take a risk and be creative at the same time.  I wasn’t sure if this would work but it did and I never looked back.

In 2007 I was awarded the Bronze Medal from The Worshipful Company of Blacksmiths for my forge work.

As the secondary schools were throwing out and closing down the metal workshops, I was going in to primary and secondary schools as a specialist with my own forge and equipment to teach metal skills and create site specific sculptures.  This was brilliant fun, rewarding and challenging and I did it for 15 years, culminating in my forge and equipment going to Joint HQ military base in Monchengladbach in Germany for me to work with the base and school on a commemorative sculpture project in 2013.

I started to work on larger public art commissions, sometimes working alongside engineering companies. I learnt lots of skills and enjoy that still. Recently I have started to cast in bronze with a friend that has a foundry but I prefer hammering hot metal really!

I stopped taking my forge and equipment to schools and now teach from home – short courses and introductory days for people wanting to try blacksmithing. I really enjoy this and try to balance it alongside my commissioned work.

My work is all designed by me, I work for private clients and public projects and my style of work is what draws people to me.

I try to design light and fluid pieces that aren’t barriers but encourage you to look at a space and the shapes between the lines I make.

'Momentum' by Melissa Cole

‘Momentum’ by Melissa Cole

If I can, I make my own sculptural pieces through the year and have small exhibitions at my forge.

I work on my own unless it is a huge project where I can call in some help and I always use engineers to install my large works.

Last year I made two very different style garden gates for private clients and two large screening panels for a public space in Oxford, an Altar cross and candlesticks for a hospice as well as 40 days teaching!

Gates by Melissa Cole

White Gates by Melissa Cole. Photograph by Mark Somerville.

One of my favourite pieces is the River Route wall mounted installation on Chapel Street in Oxford. It is a depiction of the River Isis that wraps around the building and is all hand forged.

'River Route' by Melissa Cole. Photograph by Mark Somerville

‘River Route’ by Melissa Cole. Photograph by Mark Somerville

The piece was really challenging due to the nature of the wall construction which meant I could only fix to battens behind specific mortar joints while getting flowing piece of 3D metalwork.  I only missed 1 out of 84 fixing holes so was really pleased! I think it looks great up there!

To me, the best thing about working in metal is that anything is possible! You can work out how to make it work with time and a bit of engineering!

To see more of Melissa’s amazing work, please visit or find her on Twitter at @melissacole01.

You can also find our previous guest blogs at, Horsing Around with MetalOn the Ball with Metal and Going Ape with Scrap Metal and Bridging the Gap Between Metal and Art.

If you’re interested in being a Guest Blogger for The Metal Store feel free to get in touch with us, we’d love to showcase your work!

Facebook: The Metal Store UK
Twitter: @TheMetalStoreUK