Q&A with Lori Witts, Artist/Owner of Wild West Creations

Horseshoe nail art

When did you first start showing an interest in creating art?
For as long as I can remember I have always loved to paint and draw. In high school I loved art class. I was always creating things, painting murals of landscapes, Western scenes and, most of all, of horses. After a while I just seemed to branch out with my creativity and tried different types of arts and crafts – from clay to wood working. I stumbled upon my sculpting with horseshoe nails quite by accident. My daughter and I were making horseshoe nail jewellery, and I made what I felt resembled a horse’s head. Well, things took off pretty quickly from that moment. The sculptures became very exquisite and detailed.

You said you used to paint. What did you like to paint?
When I paint, it is usually with oil paints. I like the ability to blend with oils, and it takes longer to dry so I have more time to blend and work with it.

You create jewellery by using horseshoe nails. Do you use new or used nails?
When we make our jewellery, it is made with new horseshoe nails.

Lori Witts

What is your favourite creation?
My daughter and I were making necklaces with horseshoe nails. One day I was doing some horseshoe nail bending, and I noticed it did not look like a necklace; it looked like a horse’s head. It became a horse statue made entirely out of horseshoe nails after working with it a bit more and adding pieces. The feedback I received was very positive. And that inspired me to create a whole string of pack horses – team roping scenes, jumping and horse racing scenes; it all came from that necklace that looked like a horse’s head. A “mistake” that inspired these sculptures.

Do you start with an inspiration in mind, or does it come to you once you get into it?
The inspiration for my sculptures comes from many years of having horses and enjoying many different rodeo sports and riding disciplines. I try to position the horses and riders as they would be if it were really happening – such as having the horse galloping in the correct lead or the rider with his arm raised herding cattle. Sometimes I just think of a scene that I have been in or seen and just recreate it.

Do you make identical pieces?
No two pieces are alike. Sometimes I find inspiration from movies like The Man from Snowy River.  A creative process can get very complicated. I have to think about every tiny bit, how it moves and bends in the big picture. I can get very passionate about the smallest details.

What is involved in making a piece? Do you hammer or bend or melt pieces?
We bend and shape then treat with a sealant so that it doesn’t rust. We work the sculptures much the same way and use a JB weld to hold things in place.

How long does each sculpture take?
Each piece is different, and the time it takes to create each sculpture can be significant. Some of the bigger sculptures can take anywhere up to two weeks, while the smaller pieces take a few days.

Do you sell your creations?
My daughter, Cherie, was in 4-H at the time and these sculptures were auctioned off for fund-raisers for the 4-H and other clubs in our area.

Are you the only creative person in your family?
My daughter, Cherie, is even more artistic than myself and has done many beautiful paintings and other artworks. My son, Colton, is also a budding artist and is showing a lot of talent in his drawings.

Are there any other items you would like to work with in the future?
Work and the farm life rarely allow me the opportunity to do much sculpting anymore. Perhaps with this forced isolation due to COVID-19 some new artwork will come out of it.