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.
“They are so clean when I get through with them, you can almost eat off of them,” Hunter says.
He means this quite literally, as he also enjoys making a wide selection of tables, the tops of which are horseshoes laid flat, with upright horseshoes for legs. Accompanying chairs are also made out of horseshoes. The tops of these 80-pound tables must be finished off with glass to provide a smooth surface.
Hunter’s home is the ultimate showplace for his decorative creations.
“I made the chandelier for our living room out of horseshoes, a miniature covered wagon, a Christmas tree that’s about four horseshoes wide with candleholders throughout the branches, and many other things for inside the home,” Hunter says. “Sometimes I incorporate ornamental iron railings with the horseshoes.”
The front of Hunter’s home boasts an ornamental iron door that has in detail a truck, a church and his wife’s name. Hunter says the door represents the three most important things in his life.
Roni says her husband is too modest when it comes to his metal creations.
“When you pull up to our house, you can see his horseshoe work immediately on the door, and in an arbor to the side of the house that I have planted roses around,” Roni says. “His work is extremely detailed and fun.”
Although it may sound as though Hunter works on a large scale, he works exclusively out of a small shop out behind the house where he tries to spend a few hours each day. Hunter enjoys making his horseshoe art for anyone who is interested, but so far has only made local sales.
“I sell some things now and then, but the word hasn’t really gotten out,” Hunter says. “I do sell my pieces, but I am not in this to make money. I make things mostly for my wife and my friends, and a few for the folks in Poplar Bluff.”
Hunter says he enjoys his new pastime because it allows him to bring something different to the world – just like trucking.
If you would like to contact Lindell Hunter about his craft or to purchase some of his art, please write to: 775 County Road 448; Poplar Bluff, MO 63901-9016.
Not Just for Show
The Great Salt Lake Truck Show is a place for truck owners to show off their stuff, but it also has a higher purpose.
Proceeds from the show, which will take place, for the 16th year, Aug. 26 and 27 at the E-Center in Salt Lake City, will help more than 200 children who have had a kidney failure, are on dialysis or are awaiting a kidney transplant to attend the Kidney Kamp in September 2005. The Kidney Kamp, run by the National Kidney Foundation of Utah and Idaho, gives children and their families a chance to have fun with swimming, fishing, basketball, hiking, arts and crafts, and to attend motivational learning sessions. Local college athletes give inspirational speeches about overcoming obstacles in life. The camp aims to build hope, strength and friendships to help families cope with the challenge of a kidney disease.
Jeff England, the chairman of the truck show and the CEO of Pride Transport, Inc., presented a check for $20,000 to the NKF last year to benefit the Kidney Kamp. In addition to benefiting the NKF, the Truck Show aims at promoting a positive image for the trucking industry to the public.
The Truck Show usually has 90 to 100 entries each year. The show is open to the public, but truck show participants must pay a registration fee of $75 that includes entrance into the show and a dinner for the participant on the evening of Aug. 26. Participants can enter the show up until the time it begins on Aug. 26. To enter the show or to purchase a vendor booth, see this site.
There are various categories such as the Tractor Class, Specialty Class, Combo Class, Special Feature Class and Best of Show with sub-categories within each class. The awards for the winners include prize money, trophies, diesel fuel and other donated prizes.
In addition to the show competition, there are fun events for the public like karaoke and a truck pull for teams of five. Live music by local talent will accompany the show throughout the weekend. Approximately 60 vendors will also attend to display their products.