Mojave Metal Works
by Amber Wilde
Mojave Metal Works is a small design studio located in Mesquite, Nevada specializing in custom metal art. Every piece is uniquely different, from custom bookends to giant wall art, there is something for everyone to fall in love with.
The owner and only artist for Mojave Metal Works is Matt Thomas. Originally from Salt Lake City, Utah, Matt moved to Mesquite in 2014 to be closer to his parents. He put his artistic career on hold and enjoyed spending every minute with them. It has taken some time for him to get back to creating art, and to get his business up and running again, but he now has a fully operational metal shop where he creates his masterpieces.
Matt’s love for art and metal was passed down to him at a young age from both his parents. When he was a young boy, his mother worked as an office manager at a machine shop where she would bring Matt every day after school. He spent hours in the scrap metal pile tinkering and piecing together discarded parts. His father was an author, and Matt inherited his passion for creativity.
Matt’s career started right out of high school when he went to a technical college where he specialized in CNC Programming and Machining. He completed a welding apprenticeship and got a job working for a defense contractor where he worked for ten years manufacturing parts for the aerospace industry. He went on to work for a mechanical engineering firm, designing and building automated systems for the food industry.
His true passion, however, has always been creating beautiful pieces of art. After working for the mechanical engineering firm, Matt decided it was time to bring his ideas to life. He relocated to southern Utah and opened a metal studio. His works of art are featured in several homes on the Parade of Homes circuit. You can drive through many developments in St. George and find his custom gates keeping homes secure. His work can be seen in several developments in St. George, including Stone Cliff, The Ledges, Kachina Springs, Kayenta, and Sky Ranch.
Most of Matt’s inspiration is derived from Native American design. He found inspiration in the beautiful desert landscape of southern Utah. You will notice that the common theme among his pieces is southwestern style.
Matt is also an avid outdoorsman. If he is not working, he can be found somewhere on a mountain. He has traveled all over the western United States, skiing, wind surfing, and desert racing.
Now that his shop is fully functional in Mesquite, he is ready to create custom masterpieces for any home. Several of his pieces can be seen in the pictures accompanying this article, but there are many more where those came from. One of his most prized pieces is his Thunderbird sculpture. One of these Thunderbird sculptures greets visitors as they walk in the front door of his home. Measuring four feet tall and five feet wide, it is one of his biggest and most time consuming works. Nestled in a knotty alder wood frame, is a beautiful bird made entirely out of metal.
One thing that makes his work so unique is the lack of paints or dyes. He changes the color of his metal by drawing the natural colors in the metal with heat. He calls it painting with heat. He was always fascinated by the rainbow of colors that appear on the metal’s surface when heat is applied. The colors are stunningly rich, and range from straw-gold and copper-burgundy, to violet-purple and deep shades of blue. The vivid colors are actually a thin surface oxidation. When the heated metal meets the atmosphere, colors are very fragile and soon fade, or disappear altogether. To avoid this problem Matt had to find a way to seal and preserve the colors in place. His Thunderbird is a beautiful example of this process.
There are several other items that Matt has made over the years. Among the most popular are the metal gates and storm doors. He uses a special trick to get the vibrant colors—patinas—you see on the gates. It is a chemical process that oxidizes the metal, which adds color. It took some trial and error to figure out exactly how to get the most beautiful colors.
When he first moved to St. George, he tried just about everything to get the color process correct. Some of the things he tried to use were household products, such as salt, vinegar, ammonia, lemon juice, and hot sauce. There was a definite learning curve, but now that he has the process figured out, it makes for some beautiful artwork. He has numerous design plans, and can also custom make anything you can imagine.
Another piece of art that Matt likes to create are his custom water fountains. He uses a variety of local materials to create each fountain. None of the fountains will ever be exactly the same; each one will be uniquely different based on the material he uses. Some materials he has used for his fountains are sandstone, river rock, volcanic rock, petrified wood, granite, and slate.
Several of Matt’s pieces are large, but he also creates small, interior decorating pieces that add distinction to any room. He can create almost anything, but some key pieces are his exterior sconce lights, end table lamps, bookends, picture frames, mirrors, and yard sculptures.
Mojave Metal Works is now a fully functional design studio, and Matt is ready to create beautiful works of art for the citizens of Mesquite and the surrounding areas. He is excited to create new masterpieces for his neighbors and friends.
For more information, contact Matt Thomas at (702) 279-3497 or email@example.com.