Share This Page

W.Va. artist makes sharp piece

| Saturday, May 4, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
ADVANCE FOR SUNDAY MAY 5 AND THEREAFTER In this Monday April 23, 2013 photo Nitro artist Nik Botkin displays a Saber Hawk sculpture that he created using 1,025 pieces of secondhand silverware and two ball bearings at his studio in Charleston, W.va. He chronicled the bird’s creation on the Facebook page of his Apartment Earth art studio. (AP Photo/Charleston Daily Mail, Paul Fallon)

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Nik Botkin put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into his newest creation — a 36-pound red- tailed hawk made of kitchen utensils such as knives, spoons, forks, nutcrackers, nutpicks and even an ice cream scoop.

It was the knives — the hawk's wing feathers — that drew the blood.

“I got cut like 10 times,” said Botkin, 35, of Nitro.

He welded and hammered together the piece, which he has named the Saber Hawk, during about two months. The process took him on a personal journey through inception, creation, frustration and, finally, accomplishment.

Botkin said he had to custom cut each individual spoon handle used in the hawk's wing and bend them one at a time, he said.

This part of the process was the most time-consuming and emotionally draining, Botkin said.

Saber Hawk made its public debut on April 18 in Botkin's studio, Apartment Earth, during ArtWalk in downtown Charleston.

But that was not the first day the hawk was seen: Botkin had chronicled its journey on Facebook.

He posted pictures of himself making the armature from a 22-foot rod and of turning the utensils into the bird of prey.

“I posted everything — the good and the bad,” he said.

He used Facebook to document his artistic journey as well as the process of craftsmanship.

“I don't know if this is a universal thing for sculptors, but to me, the process is the most interesting part,” he said. “To me, the process is kind of more important than the finished product.”

Halfway through, Botkin had yet to identify what he would use for talons. He took the piece to his grandfather, Edward Botkin of Nitro.

Edward, an artist, had put Botkin on a creative path in life.

The elder Botkin would hold his grandson on his lap as the youngster doodled. The grandfather then would turn the doodles into a sketch.

His grandfather had a helpful idea for the hawk.

“He asked what I was going to do for the feet,” Nik said.

When he said he wasn't sure, Edward got out Nik's grandmother Mida's antique nut picks. He had eight, a number that worked perfectly for the talons.

Nik's grandmother died about two years ago, and although he was reluctant to use her antiques in the piece, he and his grandfather eventually concluded that would be Mida's contribution to the project.

“She was always fascinated with our art,” Nik said.

His next project might be a small mammal such as a rabbit, he said.

“My ultimate goal is to make a life-sized mountain lion.”

He wanted to start with the hawk because of what it represented, he said.

“When I started, I was thinking about freedom a lot,” Botkin said. “That's what the hawk represents.”

The hawk is for sale, but Botkin didn't want to quote a price. Anyone interested in following his work can do so by “liking” his studio's Facebook page — Apartment Earth.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.