Gary Cooksey is not horsing around when it comes to welding and his artwork.
The artist’s current showcase, being hosted at Café Bliss, is one most fitting for the Cowboy Capital of the World. For the month of July the café at 152 N. Yosemite, Oakdale, is decked out with western décor crafted of horseshoes by the artisan.
Now retired, Cooksey first began tinkering with the horseshoe medium two years ago when his wife spotted a Christmas tree made of horseshoes.
“It was a hundred dollars,” Cooksey shared. “So I went home and made her one in 30 minutes.”
Prior to six months ago, the artisan would describe the work he produced as “fun stuff.” Six months ago however, he spotted a more intricate piece from a fellow artisan in Texas on the internet. Cooksey reached out to the creator and asked if he’d mind if he copied his idea.
“He said not at all,” the welder said, noting that copying was the highest form of flattery.
The pieces currently on display at Café Bliss best represent Cooksey’s most recent ventures with horseshoes as well as horseshoe nails.
“I use all new nails including copper,” he said. “Everything is welded on the back. Nothing is welded on the face. You’re not supposed to see any welds.”
Thanks to YouTube tutorials, Etsy inspirations and a few new welding tools, Cooksey has created uniquely wonderful home décor pieces, constructed purely of those two items.
Re-purposed horseshoes are used for his work as well, those pieces are not currently on display. The cost of new horseshoes and nails prompted pricing to be a bit higher on the Bliss display.
“I enjoy doing it and I enjoy the end product,” he said, “but I like seeing people’s reaction.”
Cooksey’s careers pre-retirement left little time for hobbies such as this. He spent 46 years in the auto body shop industry before retiring a handful of years ago. He’s also a US Navy Vietnam veteran. Now, with free time on his hands and a willing imagination he’s embracing his artistic side.
“You’re only limited by your imagination and the internet,” he said. “If I don’t like it, I tear it apart and start over.”
The horseshoe artisan also does custom work. In addition to viewing his work at the local eatery, it may also be viewed on his Facebook page, Cooksey’s Horseshoe Designs.
“It’s totally endless what you can do,” he stated.
For additional information call or e-mail Cooksey at 605-1772 or Thing2do48@yahoo.com