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From sunflowers to skulls, Wyldman can weld something for everyone
Matthew Hickman lowers his fierce, skull-painted welding helmet with a tip of his head. The pop and flicker of the arc welder fits right in at this nondescript garage in Torrington, lined with shelves of tools and cluttered with bits of metal. And even Matthew, with his bushy beard and calloused hands, seems at home here.
It’s only the colorful flowers and cutesy home décor perched around that may make visitors tilt their heads in curiosity.
“I went to buy steel one day,” he says, with his easygoing grin. “I told the guy I was going to make flowers out of it, and he said, ‘well, you’re the first guy to come in and say that.’”
Matthew earned a welding degree from Eastern Wyoming College and went to work on pipelines. But following two herniated disks in his back, his doctor advised him to consider a different career path.
He did; he now works fulltime at the Torrington cemetery. But he wasn’t willing to give up entirely on the welding education he’d earned. So, he started welding simple roses and other artistic pieces in a corner of his grandfather’s garage.
Soon, he started selling his work at craft shows and online. Word of his work spread quickly.
“It took off,” he says with a shrug.
His business name, Wyldman Metal Art, is based on his grandfather’s childhood nickname for him.
“I was a wild kid,” he chuckles. “I always wanted to do so much more in a day than I could.”
Today, about a year-and-a-half later, Matthew still creates those colorful, delicate-looking handmade flowers from steel. He hand-cuts each petal, welds them together at the center, adds a twisty stem and files each piece to a smooth finish. Some he leaves unpainted for a modern, industrial sort of look. Others he hand-paints in bright, eye-catching colors. He makes roses, lilies, sunflowers and more in single- or multiple-flower designs. Hardy enough for indoor or outdoor display, his flowers remain some of his best-selling work.
But flowers aren’t his only skill. He’s added something for everyone to his artistic repertoire. At the shows, his sweet-smiling snowmen and romantic horseshoe hearts sit beside fierce-looking wall hangings of sharks and skulls.
His sales funded the purchase of additional tools, like a plasma cutter to create unique, custom signs. Those large signs have become some of his favorite projects, and his work can be seen around Torrington and the region. He even created a custom grave marker at the request of a local woman who was shocked at the price of a headstone for a family member.
He still operates out of his grandfather’s garage, but he has now taken over the entire space. He spends several hours each evening after work and most weekend days there, cutting, welding and painting. It takes him about 20-25 minutes to make a rose, start to finish.
Matthew, his girlfriend and his mom attend several shows a month throughout the region to sell his metal art. A single flower sells for about $20. Other pieces are priced based on several factors, such as how long it takes to make them.
He knows his customers could get something similar from a big-box store, perhaps even for a little cheaper, but it certainly won’t have the same character as his pieces.
“Each bend of the steel, I’ve done with my hands here in this garage,” he says.
He will happily customize each order for design and color, and he can almost guarantee his pieces will last longer than those mass-produced ones. Plus, each dollar he earns means he can create more and continue to grow his business in Torrington.
From unique indoor décor to durable garden art, Matthew can make something for everyone on your Christmas list.
Visit Made in Wyoming to find more artisans and unique, locally made gifts this holiday season.