Meet Ferdinand Holotta, the Canadian Turning Scrap Metal Into Works of Art

For Ferdinand Holotta, creating something beautiful should never be hard work.

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Bird sculpture made from scrap metal
Photo: Courtesy of Ferdinand Holotta

Stunning sculptures from scrap metal

Growing up in Germany after the Second World War, I became interested in creating things out of metal. There were a lot of brass gun shells around, so I used them to make flower vases and hammered designs on to them. In those days, food was scare—I lived on an Island called Sylt in northern Germany, where fish was available but not much else—so I traded the vases for food.

In 1951, at the age of 19, I immigrated to Canada, landing in Halifax and subsequently moving to Ontario.

In later years, blacksmithing, working with sheet metal, pipe-fitting and welding allowed me to acquire a good background working with metal, which came in handy when I retired and began creating sculptures.

Take a peek at this Canadian’s impressive antique collection.

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Roses made from scrap metal
Photo: Courtesy of Ferdinand Holotta

Inspired by nature

I have a small workshop detached from the house that is equipped with a lot of special tools, some of which I made myself. Most of my inspiration for my creations comes from nature. For example, after coming across some lovely maple leaves, I used them as a pattern to cut shapes out of copper, creating a nice wall sculpture. Watching a spider spin its web to catch insects was my inspiration for creating a 42-inch spiderweb out of metal, complete with spider and fly—I call it “The Hunt.”

Next, check out the striking Indigenous art of Kalum Teke Dan.

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The Tree of Life
Photo: Courtesy of Ferdinand Holotta

The Tree of Life

I also made a 15-foot totem pole decorated with many animals found in the wild, which I call “The Tree of Life.”

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Ferdinand Holotta with his sculpture, "Tower of Good Fortune"
Photo: Courtesy of Ferdinand Holotta

Tower of Good Fortune

Over the years, I have created about 15 large sculptures measuring up to 15 feet in height. One such piece is modelled after a Chinese bell tower, which I named the “Tower of Good Fortune.”

As you can see, I prefer to give most of my sculptures a name. They are all made out of scrap copper; some of the smaller pieces might take just a few hours to make, while the larger ones take weeks.

Some of the smaller sculptures—I believe there must be at least 40 of them by now—are mounted on rocks.

I don’t sell any of my work, but I do give certain pieces away to friends—some have travelled as far away as Austria.

My wife Erna tells me that I have an incredible imagination. In the end, I do it for the enjoyment of creating something beautiful. I don’t ever let it become a job or hard work—that’s important to me.

Don’t miss this Canadian’s amazing phonograph collection.

Originally Published in Our Canada

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