By Karin Armbruster Pioneer News Network IRONS \u2014 Mark McDonough has a knack for making the old new again and bringing it to life in unintended ways. He began working with metal about 15 years ago and has been perfecting his craft ever since, making quirky animals, mermaids and wine racks out of scrap pieces and forgotten tools such as wrenches, fly wheels, nuts and bolts. He describes his art as unique and one that serves a niche market. \u201cI\u2019ve lived most of my life figuring I had a curse or something, because I can\u2019t stay inside the lines,\u201d McDonough said. \u201cI just don\u2019t see things the same as other people and I\u2019ve always been a little artistic.\u201d Now living along Big Bass Lake, he builds the sculptures and statues in a small workshop beside the home he lives in with his wife. He has experience with sheet metal, construction, repairing power tools and other trades where he has worked with his hands. McDonough first became inspired by random items previously owned by his children. He imagines every piece he creates, but rarely takes requests. \u201cYou don\u2019t want it to be a job,\u201d McDonough said. \u201cI don\u2019t want to mass produce them. Once they look alike, is it really art, or is it just manufacturing?\u201d McDonough recently met with the Lake County Star to talk more about his pieces and the creativity behind them. PIONEER: So, what do you like about art? MARK MCDONOUGH: It gives me something that I can do without someone telling me how to do it. I enjoy the hard, physical work of it and I need it or else I don\u2019t sleep at night. What are the things you create and how do you make them? MCDONOUGH: I more or less take scrap metal and try to make it into different animals, mostly birds and reptiles. One day I went out an bought a welder and just started welding. I started doing shapes and the first thing I made was a metal chicken for my sister-in-law. It actually turned out pretty good. Then I made a turkey and herons. I use a lot of pipes, nuts and bolts, wrenches, tools, gears, casings and whatever suits me. You also have made larger projects of people and mermaids. Tell me about those. MCDONOUGH: I just made an upper torso that probably took me 10 hours. I made a mermaid that took about five hours, but it took me about six hours to make its hair out of copper. I\u2019d like to make more of the realistic pieces instead of caricatures. How long does it take you to complete a piece? MCDONOUGH: When I started, it took me hours and hours. I could easily put four or five days in it, but only worked once a week. Some things would sit for six to eight months before I ever got back to them. Now, I can make the same piece in an hour if I had to. When I make birds I try to make a bunch of bodies and just change the wings. I\u2019m at the point now where I\u2019ve made so many things and I have so many pieces of scrap. Do you ever display or sell your pieces at large events or galleries? MCDONOUGH: I was at the Wine Festival in Traverse City and that was the first time. It was really fun and all, but I don\u2019t think I really fit in with everything. However, it got me some connections with some galleries and I\u2019ve received a lot of encouragement. Some pieces were just put in to a really nice gallery in Elk Rapids called Twisted Fish and my brother-in-law took some pieces up to Calumet in the Upper Peninsula to a lady there and she was showing them. I also have a couple of friends that have taken a few pieces over to Saugatuck. How does it feel when someone comes up to you and asks if they can purchase a piece? MCDONOUGH: It feels pretty good, actually. What I really like about it more than anything else is the pieces are contagious for smiles. People can\u2019t look at them without smiling, and that\u2019s the biggest thing. It feels good to sell them, but I don\u2019t want to push myself to make pieces to sell. Would you ever enter ArtPrize or a local competition? MCDONOUGH: I\u2019ve been told for years I need to get down to ArtPrize, but the thing is, that\u2019s just not me. Would I like to do it at some point? Yes, but I\u2019m going to have to do much more elaborate work. This is just for fun right now. How does your family feel about you making these pieces? Do they support it? MCDONOUGH: They do now, but not so much before. My brother-in-law pushed me into putting things into a gallery and my mother-in-law has a garden with some of my pieces incorporated in it. What are your future projects? MCDONOUGH: I\u2019m supposed to be making a bear, which I haven\u2019t figured out how to yet, and I\u2019m supposed to make a rooster. It all depends what I have in my garage. I\u2019d really like to do some eagles in flight. I have lots of ideas of different things to do. I\u2019m always looking ahead and I see things totally different than everybody else. You don\u2019t want to make the same thing all of the time, and it is art so you can put down what you see. I can\u2019t stay inside the lines.