PRECIOUS METAL - FABRICATING QUALITY TIME
Terry Gottman brings metal to life every day by creating and selling one-of-a-kind metal figurines. His pieces depict everything from cartoons to real-life people. While some of Terry’s projects are commissioned, most come straight from his own imagination. Terry’s appreciation for color and his self-taught airbrushing techniques enable him to accurately recreate such life-like images.
Terry recently completed a 12-foot-long, flashy red car for a local body shop. Like other projects, Terry started with sketches. He discussed the design with the body shop and made the changes needed. Once they were satisfied with the final design, he scanned the outline of the image into his computer and used his CNC plasma cutting machine to cut the shape out of metal. “It is great to have good tools to work with like the PlasmaCAM,” he says, “which helps me change ideas into reality.”
The car was plasma cut in two pieces and then welded together. To prepare such projects for painting, Terry grinds, sands and primes each metal cutout to ensure that it is smooth. He uses tape to mark off different color areas and maintain clean lines. The metal car comes to life as he airbrushes it with automotive paint. A final clear coat is added to the metal and it’s ready for delivery.
With just a set of tools and an old truck, Terry and his father started an electrical company in 1978. Still small and family run, Gottman Metalworks has grown into a lucrative metal art business.
“Sometimes there are 25-30 projects going on at once,” Terry explains. “We usually complete five or six custom pieces a week.” Their customer reach is remarkable, and they rely solely on word of mouth and displaying some of their work outside their shop and on their website. “We have a customer who drives from Florida every year to buy a new Santa Claus and some elves,” he says.
Forrest, Terry’s 12-year-old son, designs and makes his own metal cutouts. “Sometimes people like his stuff better than mine,” Terry laughs. Forrest creates everything from dragons, to apples for his teachers. He even created a life-sized “bigfoot”. The imagination, tools, and talent of the Gottman family are a key component to creating the uniquely custom and detailed pieces that their customers love. Terry says, “People want something they can call their own and when people come to you and start crying over something you’ve made, that’s what it’s all about. The expression on a customer’s face is the greatest joy of being in the metal art business.”