Sunday, September 5, 2010

Thomas Michael Malloy, sculptor in iron and steel

After an early period of watercolors and pastels, Thomas Michael Malloy devoted all his creative powers to metal sculpture. He says, "it feels real" and then adds with a smile "not only because of cuts and burns" (... one acquires while working with sharp metals and welding tools). Metal sculpture is where his natural gifts come through - the ideas, the keen observation (all Tom's sculptures are representational), the sense of proportion, and, his great sense of humor.

Thomas Michael Malloy
His workshop is like a candy store for any artist or tinkerer. Metal parts of old machinery, tools of various industries, decorative metal objects are everywhere you look. His own backyard, a nicely maintained garden, displays a collection of his sculptures - an owl, crow, mad pianist, angel with a trumpet, moon, horses, even a rhinoceros. Since his sculptures are intended for outdoors, Tom applies a protective coating over them. Even with that, many sculptures develop a green patina or a rich rusty color. They seem in place at any time of the year.

(Click the image above to view photos of Tom's work.)

What comes first, an idea of a sculpture followed by a search of appropriate metal parts to match the idea or, vice versa, a found object (Tom has a substantial collection of these) which inspires Tom to create a particular sculpture? Apparently both equally. In the following clip, Tom draws a sketch of a horse and a shovel bird. This is an example of the former approach - idea first, parts later.

During our conversation I have asked Tom to imagine a sculpture that would represent Long Island. His first thought was that it should be a fish to follow the general shape of the island. Then he thought for a moment longer and decided that he would prefer the sculpture to represent a tractor to reflect Long Island's farming past. An interesting choice.

Tom is a colorful person, from his twinkling eyes to his dashing blue hat (it was the first thing I noticed about him; the hat is not just a mere fashion statement - it comes with the expected protection from the rain and sun but also with enough room for air to circulate under the fabric; apparently this was a design preferred by engineers of old; Tom had prudently stashed them while the caps were still available) and a "Romeo y Julieta" cigar ("burns well and tastes good").

Tom's website carries additional information about Tom and many photos of his work. The man himself you can find at his lawn mowing repair shop at 30 Station Plaza in Glen Head, phone: 516.676.3636.


  1. Listen, if you've got any real appreciation for sculpture artwork ... and ... got a few extra grand to invest ... then buy Tommy's stuff. Tommy Malloy is a living legend around these parts, the last of a dying breed.

  2. Tom sounds as if he has a great mind and a wonderful imagination.