So Metal: Intricate Sculptures Made of Nothing but Nails

Most people use nails just to hang art on the wall, but Maine-based sculptor John Bisbee collects thousands of them to craft incredibly intricate sculptures into spiked balls, undulating waves, tree-like structures and towering geometric stacks.

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Bisbee got the idea after entering an abandoned house looking for found objects to use in his art, and finding a bucket full of old nails. “I kicked the bucket and it flipped over,” he told NPR, “and the nails had cohered, oxidized – they’d rusted into the bucket shape. And it was just such an obvious thing of beauty – it was so clearly above anything I had ever envisioned making myself. And I sat down on the bed, and I knew that I needed to get some nails.”

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Since then, Bisbee has created dozens of sculptures using nothing but nails in a free-flowing process that the artist improvises, getting them “into my hands and out into space.”

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It was only recently, after spending years welding and bending the nails into shapes, that Bisbee realized there’s something really obvious he can do with them as well: hit them with a hammer. From this revelation has come lots of wall-based art made with a pneumatic power hammer.