Guest Blog – Metal Leap Frog from Aircraft to Sculpture

tree_frogI still vividly remember my first attempt at metal sculpture. In 1978 I daydreamed of making a biplane. Not such a stretch really, after all I was a student at an aircraft school. Aero Mechanics Vocational high school, to be precise. I could see a runway from the Detroit city airport, right outside the rear door of our classroom. I completed my first creation only to have it confiscated by the school’s Assistant Principal, after all I was supposed to be doing something  completely different.

Fast forward to 1999. I was nearly 20 years into an industrial welding career and by now I was quite adept at gtaw (tig welding). I began dabbing the filler rod into the puddle. Dabbing and cooling, dabbing and cooling. Much like those 3d pens of today, except I was “drawing” with a tig torch, and stainless steel filler rod! A pair of claws started to take shape, followed by a skeleton, and then an oversized skull. The effect was that of a caricature. I named this one “Baby Rex”.


Welding and art had been a common thread during my formative years. My father was a graphic artist, and his father was a welder. So imagination and visualization became natural to me. Another inspiration to me was my maternal grandfather. He sparked in me the love of wildlife, and an insatiable curiosity for the natural world.

The methodologies of my tig’d “drawings” have evolved over time. I progressed to making armatures, then heating and pounding sheet metal into organic shapes. I also began to experiment with found scrap metal. But always, tig is used for the details, which is my favourite part of the process.

I’m currently experimenting with mixed metals, heat patinas, and surface finishes.


turtleI have been very fortunate to have great teachers in my life. First and foremost is my father, Ray F. Lockhart. as a very young boy, I would watch him work at his drawing board whenever I could. Also, Nathan O’Niel, my high school welding instructor. He had 20 some teenage boys under his tutelage at any time, but he always found time to give personal instruction and encouragement. Lastly, Milton Salisbury, an expert tool and die welder in the automotive stamping field. He took me on as an apprentice, and I enjoyed several years of one to one training in the welding discipline that I continue in, to this day.

If you are interest in seeing more of my creations, you may find me on Facebook at Lockhart Metal Art by Jeff Lockhart or on Instagram “grumpycricket”.

Jeff Lockhart


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