Vinton County Artist Turns Junk Into Masterpieces

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Flowers made out of recycled metal and animals made out of wrenches and pliers — Lonnie Jones can make artwork out of anything. Even a pile of “junk.”

The Radcliff native’s signature piece, a red phoenix with wooden poles as legs and welded parts as feet, is meant to reflect his newfound hobby.

Just like the mythical phoenix, which experiences rebirth from its dead ashes, Jones finds a way to give new life to otherwise useless, recycled trash.

Jones, a retired electrician, is an accidental genius. He has a knack for drawing little cartoons and even dabbled in tattoo work, but his mastery of sculpting “junk art” came about just within the past few months.

“About two months ago, my son comes dragging in some pieces of yard art. I said, ‘I could do better than that.’ So I made a few pieces,” Jones recalled.

At first, he didn’t think anything of his new skill. Then he put some photos on Facebook, and he was surprised to see friends arguing over which of them got a chance to take one of his pieces home.

Jones created the Nuts & Bolts Art Studio in his garage and went to work.

He bought a wire welder set and started going to recycling centers, even junk heaps for inspiration and new supplies. One day, he might be crafting teaspoons into flower petals, the next morphing a shovel into a crab.

“I went from sitting around the house watching TV to all of the sudden people wondering where your stuff is going to be for sale,” Jones said.

The culmination of this summertime renaissance was last month at the 42nd annual Hocking Hills Arts and Craft Show, where Jones was invited to show off his trade.

Beyond just creative expression, Jones wants others to see the value in utilizing recycling and finding ways to cut down on waste through opportunities like the Solid Waste District in Wellston.

“Use your imagination,” he said. “I look at junk a whole different way now. Some people see a bowl. I don’t see a bowl, I see a bug.”

Photos courtesy of Lonnie Jones