Hammer Time: The Art of Roy Mackey

By Larry Bilotti | Updated Apr 1, 2015 5:58 PM

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As you know from my prior posts, I am as fascinated with tools for their purpose and usefulness as I am for their shape, design and—dare I say—beauty. Take the hammer as an example. Here’s a tool that comes in a variety of sizes and shapes from ball peen to claw and gets called into action for everything from hanging a simple picture hook to re-nailing a floor board or building a wood deck. Despite its relative light weight, a firm grip on the lower portion of the tool’s shaft provides just the right strike-action for the user to sink a nail, straight and secure.

Roy Mackey's Hammer with Nails

For Canadian sheet metal sculptor Roy Mackey, the hammer holds a similar, albeit more artistic, fascination. A couple years ago, thinking about the relationship of the hammer and the nail (how the one is always being driven by the other) led Mackey to create Revenge—a reworked Mastercraft hammer with the head impaled by a nail. Since then, he has produced a whole series of hammer-based sculptures by heating the tools and then stretching, splitting, cutting, combining, wrapping, molding, or re-shaping them into playful, inventive works of art.

Roy Mackey "Double Header"

In addition to the artistic challenge of re-interpreting something as classic as a hammer, Mackey also wanted to make a statement about the tool’s possible demise, something he believes could happen as air nailers grow in popularity and new tools emerge. Whether as an art piece or the practical tool that it has been for centuries, I think it’s safe to say the hammer will be around for quite some time to come!

Roy Mackey Hammer Series-Wired

To learn more about the Roy Mackey Hammer Series, click here.   For more about hammers and other tools, consider:

Types of Hammers
Tool Collecting: Tips from an Antiques Roadshow Expert
Pneumatic Nailers for Homeowners