Matt worked his way through school as a cave guide, boat dockworker and car washer. After graduating with two degrees from East Tennessee State University he found work on construction jobs throughout the southeast as a layout engineer, carpenter and dynamite man. During the 1980’s he met and married his wife Teresa, started his own business as a professional land surveyor and worked as a firefighter while rebuilding his house.
Needing ironwork for his house, Matt purchased a small forge, anvil and bag of coal from a friend. His first blacksmithing project were brackets to hold a mantel onto his stone fireplace. Enjoying the strength and performance of the pieces made in the forge, Matt began to experiment with all kinds of metal working projects. In 1990 he helped to form the Bristol Forge Group to mix his love of blacksmithing with his valued friends and has never missed a meeting.
In 1995, Matt quit the fire service and started Experiments in Metal Inc. as his full time occupation. For the past 10 years this one-man operation has produced a variety of copper and steel items – mostly whimsical, outdoor pieces. Future plans include large sculptural pieces and work that incorporates different metals with wood.
Copper Garden Creature Care
Each piece of copper garden sculpture has been coated with clear plastic spray to protect the patina. As this coating slowly weathers away the chemicals now on your piece should help it develop a mellow, natural-looking patina.
However, if you are not pleased with the look after several months in the weather you can renew the finish quickly and easily with two common household chemicals. It is best to do this in the evening just before dewfall. Simply spray or pour household ammonia on the piece until it is completely wet. Then, while the piece is still wet sprinkle on a generous amount of soluble plant food. (Miracle Grow® works very well. I like Mir acid (used for rhododendrons) as it tends to be bluer.) Leave the piece outside overnight and you will have created a heavy patina by the next morning.
Try to keep the piece out of direct sunlight and rain but in the dewfall for several days to give your renewed patina a chance to react and fix to the copper surface. You may treat your piece in this way as often as you like and build up patina until you are satisfied.