Philomath resident Bud Thomas has been creating “walked–on” artwork for almost three years now, but the fact that his material of choice has seen everything from mud to sludge and worse has never bothered him. This man’s artistic vision is all about recycling horseshoes into life-sized horseshoe sculptures that will blow your mind. I recently caught up with this creative genius and talked to him about his visionary sculptures that can be see along the main strip of Philomath.
Upon entering his workshop, I could hear the clanging of a hammer, and after a bit of walking about I finally found the man behind the masterpiece, working next to a metal tree and some very stiff fish. Tossed around the floor were pieces that had been cut off of his previous sculptures, as well as the various tools of the trade. In short, the organized clutter of a perfectionist at work. After a short chat Thomas led me over to six large bins filled with different sizes of horseshoes, and explained the process of cleaning each of the shoes and making them into straight pieces that he can work with. Each piece is heated twice in a forge and then pounded until it makes a straight line—as if the shoes hadn’t had a rough enough life already. Then he sets to work welding, and depending on the size of the critter at hand, eventually a life-sized sculpture is created.
His work is fast and the sales are too. The last fish he made was sold in a matter of days. Bud’s first sculpture, the iconic leopard that can be seen on his website, came from an idea from an article he had read online. As simple as it sounds, he decided on the spot: “I’m gonna make that!”
After much frustration, particularly with the feet and legs, his first critter was complete. Believe it or not, Thomas’ three years of work has been extremely prolific, thanks to his natural ability to create. This has allowed him to be very successful at assembling a variety of animals, which have become beloved to those that have purchased them. His rearing stallion took him three months, and is made up of 630 horseshoes. That’s roughly 157.5 horses! His elk sculpture needed even more: 750 recycled shoes, using 130 in just a single antler!
Thomas says that he loves each one of his creations and that he doesn’t have a favorite, but I can’t help but reflect on the irony of a horse made out of its own shows. Then again, doesn’t the saying go, “No hoof, no horse?”
To check out Thomas’ work or to perhaps even pay him a visit, check out www.budthomas.com.