Construction and creation: Brothers turn metal into art

By M. Scott Morris/NEMS Daily Journal

HATLEY – Ben Scott, and his brother, John, have worked with their hands for years.
Between the two, they’ve done construction, painted houses, put in tile floors and built awnings.
They’re working men.
But jobs aren’t as easy to come by as they once were.
“It’s never been this slow, not in 30 years,” Ben Scott, 56, said. “You do what you have to do.”
In the Scott brothers’ case, they became artists. Before Christmas 2008, someone asked them to build a bottle tree. Next, came a request to shape a piece of metal into something resembling a leaf.
That began more than a year of experimentation and collaboration.
“When I don’t have anything else going on,” Ben Scott said, “I’m at the shop working on things around here.”
They’ve turned copper into ferns and calla lilies, and they’ve made iron trellises decorated with stained glass. Some of their results are for sale at the Main Artery in Tupelo.
“We kind of fell into it,” John Scott, 46, said. “I don’t know. It’s a hobby, I guess.”
“I’d do it full-time if it would support me,” his brother said, “but it’s a sideline now.”

Doing the work
They’ve invested in their hobby by buying equipment to bend, curl and otherwise shape the metal. They’ve also made tools to help turn cut-out pieces of copper into leaves.
“You’ll be wherever, whenever, and something will give you an idea,” Ben Scott said.
But ideas have to be carried out, and that’s not always easy. The Scott brothers’ workshop in Hatley holds several creations that didn’t measure up.
“John did a calla lily, but he didn’t care for it much,” Ben Scott said. “It was already at the store, but he went and took it back.”
The sculpture is sitting on the floor of the workshop. It’s hard to spot any flaws, but John Scott knows the work isn’t up to his standards, so that settles it.
“John’s an artist,” Ben Scott said. “He does all that detail work that I don’t have the patience for.”
During the interview, Ben Scott demonstrated several techniques for turning metal into leaves, and none of the finished products impressed him. He cut the metal, pounded it with a hammer, twisted it with gloved hands, then judged the results as scrap.
“This whole year, it’s been a trial and error type thing,” he said.
That’s especially true for the brothers’ efforts to create finishes to layer over their metal flowers. They’ve experimented with a variety of chemical recipes from the Internet, including one that could’ve set the workshop ablaze.
“It was a big ol’ flash of fire, went way up,” Ben Scott said, motioning with his hands. “Luckily, we were outside.”
Metal shards provide additional hazards. Work gloves are a necessity; short pants are a folly.
“I cut off a piece that was sharp and it went – ‘Doomph’ – right into my leg. That wasn’t fun,” Ben Scott said, laughing at the experience.

Fun for now
The economy’s got to kick back into gear sooner or later. Maybe the Scott brothers will be flooded with construction work to do, and their metal work could prove to be a passing phase.
Then again, maybe they’re onto something.
“The truth is,” Ben Scott said, “it’s a lot of fun.”

Contact M. Scott Morris at (662) 678-1589 or scott.morris@djournal.com.

What’s in a name?
Ben and John Scott call their business Metallix, and it’s pronounced “metal-icks.”
“My daughter said, ‘Daddy, there’s no such word as Metallix.’ I said, ‘There is now.’ She looked it up,” Ben Scott said.
His sister came up with the name, but he and his brother do the work. For information about copper sculptures, metal trellises and stained glass, call (662) 256-0301 or 315-6246.