Hammered Pig Ironworks By Tyler Matthews – Artist Spotlight

BD would like you to meet Tyler Matthews of Hammered Pig Ironworks.  He explains how this all got started and where its going.

Tyler MatthewsBD:Where do you live?

Tyler Matthews:I live in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Tarpon sculpture
Tarpon made from saw blades, nails and rebar.

BD:What mediums do you work in and what is your favorite?

Tyler Matthews:Growing up I did a lot of two-dimensional art; painting, charcoal, and pencil. In high school and college I began sculpting with wire (this helped my bimini twists for my part time job as an offshore mate), and applied that to my love of fishing. I made numerous wire fish and sold them to family friends to feed my love for fishing. Recently I have focused on sculpting metal. Predominantly mild steel that is bent by hand and mig welded.

Tyler Matthews
I lived in Delaware for 11 years, and our main fishery was striper.

BD:What are your other hobbies, and are they related to your artwork?

Tyler Matthews:When I am not working I want to be fishing. When it is too rough to fish I am sculpting. I do a little bit of hunting, but not as much time is dedicated to that. As far as my love for fishing… that has been there my entire life. I am happy wetting a line anywhere; freshwater, saltwater, pond, creak, flats, gulfstream, it does not matter to me. I do however keep my boat in Atlantic Beach NC, and prefer to fish inshore and offshore saltwater if I have a choice. I grew up in an offshore family, so that does always hold a place in my heart.

metal art
This is a picture of my obsession that got me into welding, and in turn spurred on this type of art.

BD:How did you get started and what was the evolution of your style?

Tyler Matthews:This is a kind of long story… From 2006-2011 I took a break from my fishing obsession because of a move, and I fell into the rock crawling scene (in vehicles). I ended up becoming obsessed with it, and started building a jeep that consumed my brainpower and time. I would take it up the PA coal country for the weekend, break it, bring it home, and re-engineer whatever broke so that it would not break again. In 2011, I realized that I had an unhealthy obsession that my lower back was not putting up with anymore, so I sold everything except for my metal fabrication tools. Fast-forward six months… I am driving my wife crazy because I am home so much, and my buddy (a brewery owner) is tired of me complaining about how cheap his tap handles are. He finally cracks and says “if you think they are so bad then why don’t you make something better”.

beer taps
The full lineup of taps I made for his restaurant.

So that is where this all started; making tap handles out of mild steel. After that I started looking at all the steel and old license plates I had laying around so I decided to clean up the garage by making a white marlin from old construction materials and Delaware license plates.

white marlin
The first fish sculpture that I made. Made it out of scrap metal that I picked up while building a clients house. They asked me to make a fish, so I made it out of things that went into their home.

From there it went crazy. I started dreaming up all sorts of different projects, and making them out of whatever I could find.

yellowfin tuna
A more refined fish, but still has a rebar spine with nails for ribs and saw blades for gills.

BD:What goals do you have for your artwork, what does the future hold?

Tyler Matthews:Honestly; I have never really thought about that. I want to be able to find scrap that inspires me to find different subject matters. It is so much fun when you can dig through a farmer’s scrap pile, or junkyard and you find a piece of metal and think, “That will make the perfect jaw for a tarpon”. Also, I keep working and saving to be able to build my dream workshop, and it is funny because that dream is ever changing!

Dolphin sculpture
Dolphin for a client that was born in NY, grew up in MD, and lives in DE now.

BD:Is there a message or theme behind your artwork?

Tyler Matthews:No message, just my love of nature, and my passion to create natural flow in a piece of art while using such industrial, man made parts and pieces.

marine art
Made 100% from reclaimed parts. Saw blades, conveyor belt parts, washers, drill bits, timing chain, antique shooter marbles, bearing races…

BD:What or who inspires you?

Tyler Matthews:My mother inspires me. She is the person who introduced me to art. She started as a watercolor portrait artist, and has moved from that into impressionistic oils and acrylics. She also shares my passion for nature and the ocean (she is a master diver). Also; I just like to make people smile!

Metal sculpture
This thing is made entirely from steel. The antlers were 5/16” rod with 16ga sheet metal skin.

BD:What has been the hardest project, or what is the hardest aspect of you art?

Tyler Matthews:The hardest pieces I have done are by far the whitetail antlers that I have made. They are made from 5/16ths bar, and 16 gauge sheet metal. From there it is shaping, bending, welding, grinding, more welding, more grinding, more welding, etc.… But with that said they are by far the most amazing pieces I have made. Most people think that I just paint a set of deer antlers with some crazy metal paint until they touch them.

fish sculpture
I call this the Atlantic sail. It has a plate from every state that I felt you could conceivably target and catch a sailfish in.

BD:What brings you the most satisfaction or sense of accomplishment?

Tyler Matthews:The amazement that I get from people on how I made my art and what I made it out of. I would be a liar if I didn’t acknowledge I get a little kick out of how many people like my Facebook page (I know I sound like a millennial. Although I think I might be… not sure. I am on the line)

I donated this redfish sculpture to the CCA of NC for their triangle banquet.

BD:Do you do commissioned pieces?

Tyler Matthews:About 75% of my art is commissioned, and the rest is personally inspired by my mind and the scrap pile… I do try to keep my Facebook page updated with the pieces that I have available, and I always encourage people to reach out to me if they want to talk about an idea for a commission piece. I love trying new things and subject matter, and I am always up for a challenge!

fish art
The plates are all his from years past, and the spine is a fluted gun barrel. He is an avid offshore fisherman and hunter.

BD:How can people reach you to commission a piece?

Tyler Matthews:My public Facebook page is www.facebook.com/hammeredpig.  My email is [email protected] 

Our thanks to Tyler for sharing his amazing metal working talents with us.  Check out more amazing artists on BD.