'Like adult Legos': 18-year-old artist shines in community with metal sculptures

Tina Locurto
York Dispatch

Sam Colyer collects scrap metal of all kinds — spoons, nails, perhaps tiny cogs, to name a few. 

Donning an industrial black safety mask and cranking up the heat on his grandpa's hand-me-down welding machine, the 18-year-old transforms hunks of metal into tiny, shiny works of art.

"I take junk metal that nobody wants and turn it into art pieces," said the Brogue resident. "It's like adult Legos."

More:Cheese carving, sea lions and concerts galore: Your guide to the 2022 York State Fair

More:For Native Americans in south-central Pa., 'We're still growing, we're still surviving'

More:Landmark Haines Shoe House could soon book overnight stays

Sam Colyer, 18, of Brogue, is a metal artist working primarily with scrap metal and hand-me-down equipment. Colyer is a self-taught artist who started four years ago. Tina Locurto photo.

Growing up, Colyer was always creative and enjoyed working with his hands. Whether woodworking, making metal art or homemade knives, he taught himself using second-hand equipment and YouTube tutorials. 

Now, he creates pieces for customers craving industrial, individualized, polished creations. 

One piece that sits on his mom's counter is constructed from old railroad tracks and horseshoe nails.

Sam Colyer, 18, of Brogue, is a metal artist working primarily with scrap metal and hand-me-down equipment. Colyer is a self-taught artist who started four years ago. Tina Locurto photo.

"Every time I bring something in, (my mom) is like, 'Oh, that's gonna look nice over here,'" Colyer said. "I'm like, 'Well, it's kind of for someone.'"

Each custom piece can take Colyer anywhere from 30 minutes to 58 hours. 

While he accepts commissions, he isn't afraid to turn down work if he knows he won't have the time for it. Currently, Colyer is working on a large tree sculpture for a client who works with bugs. 

>> Please consider subscribing to support local journalism. 

"When I first started, I got 10 or 12 orders in the first week — it was exciting but I'm still working," Colyer said. "I have had a couple more orders that I had to just not take because I want to get other ones done."

Safety is important when working with soldering irons and welding machines. The intense, burning lights of the welding machines can be blinding.

Wearing the proper protective gear and masks is crucial when working in this art form, Colyer said.

Sam Colyer, 18, of Brogue, is a metal artist working primarily with scrap metal and hand-me-down equipment. Colyer is a self-taught artist who started four years ago. Tina Locurto photo.

That doesn't mean mistakes — or injuries — don't occur occasionally. 

In addition to taking custom orders, Colyer recently had his metal creations featured in an art exhibit at Collinsville Community Library, located at 2632 Delta Road.

"It was kind of weird leaving everything there," Colyer said. "But it was cool. I wasn't expecting that."

Sam Colyer, 18, of Brogue, is a metal artist working primarily with scrap metal and hand-me-down equipment. Colyer is a self-taught artist who started four years ago. Tina Locurto photo.

Colyer, who was homeschooled, said he isn't quite sure where life will take him. 

For now, he wants to continue working on his art and serving his clients. 

"When I started selling pieces and people were like, 'Do you think you'd be able to make this?' I said I could try," Colyer said. "And then it kind of kept moving — I just started working for myself."

— Reach Tina Locurto at tlocurto@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @tina_locurto. 

Sam Colyer, 18, of Brogue, is a metal artist working primarily with scrap metal and hand-me-down equipment. Colyer is a self-taught artist who started four years ago. Tina Locurto photo.