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Today I came across this incredible photo of a Xenomorph (the famed Alien from the ass-kicking sci-fi thriller films of the same name) — sculpted entirely from old car parts and hand tools. This invention really impresses me. As a part-time Humanities instructor, I find many students roll their eyes when they learn the class involves examining sculptures and — worst of all — attending an art museum. Yet modern, unexpected uses of everyday objects transformed into Something Awesome, like this xenomorph, do capture their attention (that, and ancient weaponry). And I think that taking something considered very practical and making it into something aesthetic is a cool way of making us re-think the objects around us.

I went in search of other tool sculptures to see what other expressions people have created. Are tools rough, brute-force vehicles of power? Are they delicate, sleek instruments to shape the physical world? Seeing some of these concepts realized in art is an interesting way to explore that question.

Here is an Abstract Iron Tools sculpture from the great Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City:

And a more whimsical use of garden tools in the Bronx Zoo:

I’ve run into some people here in Texas who’ve come up with some pretty amazing concoctions using tools, scrap metal, and “found objects.” It’s not unusual to use tools to create art, but have you ever created art that was made of tools? Or is the whole idea sacrilege — like using books as props in a model home, or turning functional musical instruments into restaurant wall kitsch? Let us know what you think in comments.

Thanks to Flickr user fyrenwater for the Xenomorph photo.
Thanks to Flickr user jondresner for the Nelson-Atkins Museum photo.
Thanks to Flickr user ep4919 for the Bronx Zoo photo.


11 Responses to It’s Just Cool: Tool Sculptures

  1. Shy Guy says:

    Tool Sculpture – David Smith (died 1965) did some real good artwork. Over at Storm King Art Center (Mountainville,Up State NY) sculpture made out of old blacksmithing tools.

  2. I got three good things for ya.

    #1 my mother gave me a book of the Hechinger collection of art made from tools. It’s amazing. Look here http://www.amazon.com/Tools-as-Art-Hechinger-Collection/dp/0810926415

    Secondly, I made this, and several other bowls from sockets, nuts, bolts, and nails. http://heartlessmachine.com/artwork/196519_Socket_Bowl.html

    And C, I made a whole bunch of these: http://heartlessmachine.com/section/17714_Scissor_Spiders.html

  3. Brau says:

    I love this stuff. I could peer at that ALIEN for a long time identifying all the tools and bits that went into it.

  4. PutnamEco says:

    I’m a fan of unusual art. My more practical side favors things that are actually functional, such as furniture. My latest interest has been in tables. I like the table Jonathan Niemuth made of pipe wrenches with a glass top. The lamps they have been making out of galvinized pipe are interesting as well. There are definitely some talented and creative artists out there.
    I have tinkered with some small art projects, but none specifically made of tools. things like spark plug airplanes and railroad spike crosses, nothing special.

  5. Ben Granucci says:

    Occasionally I find garden sculptures made out of childrens sized garden tools and painted in bright colors. My favorite though was found walking down 5th Ave in New York City one night several years ago. Inside the window of a silverware shop was a life-size turkey made entirely of flatware, including hundreds of spoons for the body.

  6. browndog77 says:

    @ Christopher aka HeartlessMachine

    Pretty impressive work, sir!

  7. Moose says:

    My new life goal: To own enough tools to create an ‘Alien’ sculpture. That is so sweet.

  8. DoItRite says:

    Here’s one of many tucked into the woods on the edge of Missoula Montana:


  9. Love that dino sculpture!

  10. Doug says:

    That Alien sculpture is amazing! In a related story, every neighbor who lent this guy their tools in the past 4 years and never got them back are PISSED. 🙂

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