A bench made out of horseshoes inspired Lindell Hunter to take up this art form. Now he has made a bench of his own.
In the two years since trucker Lindell Hunter retired, he has lassoed his dreams of becoming an artist. As a self-taught welder, Hunter creates Western-themed masterpieces almost exclusively from horseshoes.
Born into a trucking family, 62-year-old Hunter was raised in the small town of Piedmont, Mo., and now resides with his wife Roni in Poplar Bluff. Before he retired, Hunter ran between 100,000 and 125,000 miles each year, with no accidents and nine safe driving awards in his long career. Hunter is most proud of the time he spent as a member of the convoy for the Special Olympics, and being named as a Trucker of the Month in Overdrive magazine. Hunter says he had the privilege of hauling everything from pipe for the Capitol building in Washington, D.C., to a giant Mickey Mouse hat bound for Disney World.
Hunter and his wife were on the road in Texas when Roni spotted a bench made from horseshoes, and Hunter’s new hobby was born.
“I was never into horseshoes,” Hunter says. “I always had a horse, but the bench my wife spotted in Amarillo was the only thing I had ever seen made of horseshoes. I guess I have to give her the credit for the idea.”
Hunter says he had never considered the pursuit of art or sculpting during his career as a trucker, because he didn’t see a future in it. Recently, his mind has changed.
“All it takes is imagination,” Hunter says. “If you get to looking at something long enough, you get to thinking of all you could make with it. Anyone can do it if they just put their mind to it.”
Hunter creates a variety of things with his horseshoes – benches, mailboxes, lamps, chandeliers and even a toilet – but his favorite project is making cowboys from two horseshoes put together.
“The cowboys I make usually about 12 inches high,” Hunter says. “They are all posed differently. Some of them are drawing a pistol, others are playing cards, and some are even bent over like they’ve been shot. For some cowboys, I took a bolt and made them a dog out of it. You can get real creative with what you make. Once I took a piece of pipe and welded some metal to the bottom of it, and it made a perfect cooking pot.”
Hunter says that although the welding process is difficult, it’s not impossible for a beginner to be successful at the craft.
“You have to have a torch and a good heavy pair of gloves,” Hunter says. “You bend the shoes with a pair of pliers and try to keep from getting your hands burned. It’s hard to explain exactly how you do it, because you just go with what feels right with each horseshoe.”
Hunter uses both old and new horseshoes to create his pieces, and he says used horseshoes are much more difficult to work with because the nails have to be removed and the shoes then put in a sandblaster.