Alton Arnold said when he replaced Tom Coates as the Challis High School welding teacher this year, one of his goals was to teach kids how to make metal art.
His students are turning donated horseshoes into holiday decorations. They’re still learning the practical techniques they’ll need as professional welders, Arnold said, but this allows students’ creative sides to get exercised as well.
Senior Cayden Zollinger said some of the horseshoes were welded into Halloween pumpkins a couple of weeks ago. Students cut up some of the shoes for stems, painted them green and then blasted the rest of the rusty ornaments with orange spray paint.
As he admired the handiwork, Arnold pointed out that some of the pumpkins were made from mismatched shoes. Using horseshoes of various sizes can give a metal pumpkin a rough, lumpy appearance, “just like a real one,” Arnold said.
The pumpkins were made for Halloween. Now Zollinger said they are working on Thanksgiving turkeys. They’re having a little trouble in the design phase, Zollinger admitted, because the cut-up horseshoe that is supposed to be a turkey’s beard looks more like a thick beak.
Arnold said he first came up with the idea of having his students create holiday art from horseshoes while looking online for inspiration. Social media sites are full of decorative welding projects, Arnold said, enough to keep his students busy for the holiday season. Arnold said students will go from pumpkins and birds to snowmen and reindeer. After that there’s bunnies for Easter.
If none of that catches their interest, Arnold said he’s also allowing his students to make their own creations from the horseshoes. Although it’s still being worked on, Arnold said the bull in the works by Hoak Corgatelli is coming along nicely.
The horseshoe holiday decorations can be purchased by donation, according to Zollinger. The online examples his teacher found cost around $30, he said. People who want a decoration can place an order by calling the high school at 208-879-2255 and asking for Arnold or the shop.