The Art Of Master Craftsman Les Seamster
From The Texas Oilfields To The Ozarks
Have you ever had a job that really paid well, but in all honesty you hated going to work, because you didn't enjoy your job?
Well that was my life thirty five years ago in the Texas oilfields. The oilfields was a dirty, nasty and dangerous way to make a living, although it paid very well.
I spent quite a few years making big money in the oilfields,but I was very unhappy with my job.
Working seven days a week from eleven o'clock at night to seven in the morning, the same routine every night.Fighting the weather elements and going home covered in mud and grease to take a big paycheck home.
I Wondered If This Was Where I Would Retire
I was in my early twenty's and wondered if this would be where I retire. I needed the money,and I was trying to make a life for myself and my wife Shronda.
One night I prepared to go to work, just another night in the mud and grease routine. As I pulled into the location,I went to my locker to change clothes only to find an empty locker. My tools and clothing were missing. It seems like someone from another crew got fired and decided to take a few things that wasn't his. Unfortunately, I was the target. I lost hundreds of dollars in tools and clothing.
Because Of A Thief, I Saw New Possibilities In A Change Of Career
After losing my belongings, and then replacing them again, I wanted to mark my tools to discourage thieves from stealing from me again. I took a nail from the parts house and sharpened it to a fine point and began to scribe my name into my tools.
I also had to replace my hard hat. The crews all wore aluminum hardhats. They came in several colors, and I bought a blue one. After I bought it, I thought I would take my homemade inscriber and personalize my hat with my name and company logo. I didn't just scratch my name into the hat in five minutes, I wanted it to look nice and it required several hours to finish it.
The Oilfield Workers Were Crazy About What I Had Done To My Hat
When my crew and the rest of the workers saw what I did to my hat, they. went crazy. They actually wanted to pay me to personalize their own hats. I didn't realize where this was all going until after just three weeks, word of mouth got out that I was decorating hardhats and it spread like wildfire throughout the oil fields. I didn't use that nail for very long, I found real engraving tools later at a hobby shop which made things a lot easier and faster to work with.
Company men in big corporate offices were ordering fifty to one hundred Hardhats at a time and was giving them away as retirement and safety awards to their employees. I was so busy engraving hats that I had no energy to do my real job. It was then that I turned a sideline business into a full time career.
I named my business: SILVER HIGHLIGHTS because the aluminum hat was silver in color when I cut into it. And when held under light, gave off silver highlights.
Here Is A Photo Of A Few Of My Hard Hats After A Year Of Engraving Full Time
I Began Going To Art Shows
After quitting the oil fields, I began going to art shows to display my hard hats. I did well with the art shows, but then O.S.H.A. (safety organization) banned the metal hard hat and went to plastic and fiberglass hats because the aluminum hat was a conductor to electricity.
OH BY THE WAYit wasn't til just recently that a company in Texas started selling the aluminum hats again, and YES I AM NOW TAKING ORDERS AGAIN. After so many comments from all of you, I decided to take orders again.
Why Not A Flat Piece Of Metal?
After the oil fields went to plastic hardhats, I had to come up with a new idea that would take the place of the Aluminum Hard Hat. I thought to myself for a while, and then ask this question: Why not a flat piece of metal that could be framed and hung on someones wall as home décor. After searching for several weeks for a replacement, I finally found the medium I needed.
Powder Coated Aluminum And Brass Sheets
I found the answer in powder coated aluminum and brass sheets. My target market had changed from people who wore hard hats to everyone who had a wall to hang art work. After working with both metals, I found that the powder coated brass out sold the aluminum, so that is what my primary medium is unless someone special orders a personalized twenty fifth wedding anniversary gift, which is silver. Brass is gold in color, but I kept the original name of SILVER HIGHLIGHTS because of the history behind it all.
In 1983 My wife and I was invited to Branson Missouri to display my art, and I now operate a gallery during the tourist season where I meet several thousand people a year. I am also with Silver Dollar City theme park in September and October during the national Americans Crafts Festival.
Here Are Some Photos Of My Art Work
The above photos are just a few of my finest pieces.Below is two of my demonstration videos
As I mentioned before, because of all the comments from everyone on the hats, i've found a company that is selling the aluminum hats again and i'm taking orders for them again.