Most people look at silverware and think dinner. Frederick Kuck looks at it and thinks eagle or crane.
The Neosho artist, who drilled wells for a living and raised beef cattle, found out he had a talent for making something extraordinary out of something ordinary in 1995. His sister, who owned a restaurant, asked him to make an iguana out of metal scraps. A crocodile followed soon after.
“It’s a gift God gave me, I guess,” says Kuck.
An eagle he made out of spoons and knives was among the best in a regional art contest, and moved on to the state-level competition.
That piece sold for $2,500. He’s sold other pieces for $1,200.
The 77-year-old metal artist found a gold mine in scraps when the Carnation plant in Oconomowoc stopped making cans, leaving behind rods and other pieces of metal that turned into cranes and other creatures.
“Most of the stuff I use is recycled. I don’t buy new material,” says Kuck.
Kuck doesn’t do a lot of planning before he starts a piece. “I look at pictures and real things, but I never make a drawing,” he explains.
He’s always been a creator of things. In 1972, he made a new conveyance out of a Harley cycle and Volkswagen. “It might have been the first three-wheeled motorcycle,” says Kuck.
Kuck has lived in the same spot between Neosho and Ashippun since marrying his wife Sylvia in 1961. The place, and eight grandchildren, keep them busy.
For a time he, along with several other artists, sold creations at Little Vittles in Oconomowoc, but “it was not my cup of tea to be a salesperson.”
Kuck doesn’t like to keep his art and prefers to make things for others.
“I just like building stuff. I don’t play golf, I don’t do sports,” says Kuck.
“I guess you’d call it therapy.”