Metal Maniac: Rick Radman Crafts Unique Sculptures from Scrap Metal, Old Tools and More
By JoeTennis | Bristol Herald Courier | June 03, 2008*** The story appeared in the Bristol Herald Courier on May 29, 2008. ***
STONY FORK, Va. ? Rick Radman. That's his real name.
It sounds possibly like a moniker for a heavy metal musician. Maybe that's no coincidence.
Radman, 58, makes sculptures from scrap metal.
"And old men love my stuff," Radman said, "because they grew up on farms, and they've been around all kinds of tools they can identify."
All kinds of tools and just plain stuff, you see, get mixed into a Radman creation.
Springs and sockets. Clamps and crowbars.
Nuts, bolts, washers ? all go into the mix, whether the man is building a dog, a dinosaur or a big bird.
And, oh, how he likes building birds.
Pointing to one, three-foot-high sculpture, Radman said, "That's made out of a spring from a motorcycle."
'A LITTLE PICTURE'
Often, these odd creations begin on paper.
"Sometimes, I draw a little picture," Radman said, showing off a pencil sketch of a bird figurine.
Look around: There's a bird in Radman's yard that looks much like what's on paper.
Other times, Radman takes scrap stuff and simply stacks one metal thingy on top of some something-another. Later, he might find a particular doo-hickey looks best balanced on some other thingamajig.
Looking at his creation of a dog on his front porch, Radman tried to explain how he made it ? with giant bolts for eyes and some scrap metal for a mouth.
And the toes?
"I can show you what I made them out of," Radman said. "But I don't know what they are."
To find stuff like old horseshoes and tools, Radman might travel to a junk pile or answer calls when people are cleaning out old buildings.
"I've always collected stuff," Radman said. "I never throw anything away."
Growing up in the Ocean View section of Norfolk, Va., Radman took an early interest in physical education.
For years, he taught school.
Today, while he's no longer a teacher at George Wythe High School, Radman remains interested in wrestling. He's still a coach.
Radman and his wife, Mary, have a 26-year-old son, Paul.
Years ago, after coming to Wythe County in 1972, the family built their own home beside a scenic span of Stony Fork. Here, the family's screen porch overlooks what used to be a logging trail.
In this idyllic setting, among rocks and moss and running water, Radman creates his art.
"I haven't had any formal art training," he said. "I'm not influenced by anybody but myself."
Radman's artwork is available at a handful of Southwest Virginia shops, including the Wilderness Road Trading Co. in Wytheville and the Mountain Lake Gift Shop near Pembroke. Many pieces sell for $65 to $150.
And, yes, his art all comes from stuff that other people have thrown away.
Like an old gas nozzle.
"My friends call me a catfish bottom feeder, because I bring home stuff that nobody would ever want," Radman said, laughing. "I just enjoy creating things ? making stuff out of, really, nothing."
This dog made by Radman stands guard at the door. (Photo by Joe Tennis|Bristol Herald Courier)
More sculptures made from found objects decorate Radman's yard. (Photo by Joe Tennis|Bristol Herald Courier)