Maker Spotlight - PJ Kennedy aka PFe works

Jun 7th 2024

Metalworker Maker spotlight on PJ Kennedy aka PFe works who is a scrap metal artist who welds impressive metal sculptures in a steampunk style

If you follow Empire Abrasives on Instagram, there's a good chance you've seen some of the incredible metal art created by the one and only PJ Kennedy, aka PFe works. We just can't help reposting his creations! PJ is someone we have been thrilled to know for years. Not only is he a super talented metal artist, but he's also a genuinely great guy. His unique pieces, with a distinct style that blends steampunk elements and scrap metal ingenuity, have garnered a significant following (even after having to start over after a mean person hacked his account) and inspired many within the metalworking community. We're excited to dive deeper into PJ's creative journey and share more about his impressive work.

Check out his pages here:

PJ Kennedy PFe_works

Can you tell us a bit about yourself and how you got started in metal art/sculpture?

I got started in metal art at the age of 30. I have worked in the fencing industry since I was 18 learning how to weld and work with metal. Once I got onto social media and seeing what people were creating, I figured I could make things like they were and started farting around in the garage.

How long have you been working with metal, and what drew you to this medium?

I took 4 years of metal shop in high school learning the basics then went into the fencing industry welding fence panels and gates. I work with metal because I hate splinters.

How would you describe your artistic style?

My style is a mix depending on the scrap metal I am using on a project. I would say I have a steampunk flare to most of my pieces.

Outside of your metalworking, what are some of your other interests or hobbies?

I am a huge fan of dirt bikes, and I ride with friends and family as much as possible when having free time between the kids' sports and plays.

Metal art dirt bike made of scrap metal parts by metal artist PJ Kennedy aka PFe works

Where can we find you and your work online? (social media pages, website, online store/marketplace, etc.)

My handle on all forms of social media is PFe Works. I currently have an Instagram, Facebook page and a tic tock account.

Process and Inspiration

What inspires you? Are there specific themes or ideas you explore in your metal sculptures?

I always enjoy making gun and weapon sculptures to add to my #scrapmetalarmory tag and have become known for them. I really like working with chains and pistons as well as there are a lot of ways they can be used. I enjoy creating art that can be handled as not much art out there is intended to be touched.

I often find inspiration from other artists or even simple sketches of random things and shapes that I see could be something neat out of metal.

Scrap metal art sculpture of a gatling gun, created by metal artist PJ Kennedy aka PFe works

Could you walk us through your process? How do you take an idea from concept to finished sculpture?

It’s really dependent on the piece I am making. I tend to have an idea in my head and try to make the metal fit that shape but sometimes I will find a piece of metal that looks like a particular thing and make it because that original piece of steel had such a resemblance.

What are some of the main techniques and tools you use in your metalworking projects?

The basic tools used in my process are a few grinders with an Empire Abrasives cutting disk, sanding disk and a wire wheel as I tend to spend more time with a grinder in my hand than the welding lead. Besides that, I use my Flux core wirefeed welder, a bench vice and an impact wrench with a wire wheel. Any of the other tooling I have is sparsely used.

Looking ahead, are there any new techniques or materials you're eager to explore in your future projects?

I’m pretty well set in my ways at this point. If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it.

Do you ever incorporate found metal objects or other unique materials into your sculptures?

All of my pieces are made from found or scrap metal. If I am doing a commission piece I will often ask if the customer has any pieces of metal that I can add into the art to make it more personal.

Has working with metal changed your relationship with everyday objects or the world around you?

I think it does this for everyone. I can't see a piece of metal now and not envision what I could turn it into.

Could you share some of the unique considerations or logistical challenges you face when creating your sculptures?

I have pieces all over the country and the thinking I have learned is that shipping a metal sculpture to the East Coast is expensive! I have tried to make sure and be mindful of where the customer is located while selecting the steel I'll be making the art piece out of.

Horse art - "Black Stallion" scrap metal art sculpture created by metal artist PJ Kennedy aka PFe works

Do you ever take commissions or custom orders? If so, what's the process like for working with clients?

I do. I have had really good luck with the customers I have worked with and tend to have them input what they are looking for through the build process to ensure they get what they are looking for.

What do you listen to while you're working?

Podcasts mainly. I am a huge motocross fan and there is normally a Pulp MX moto podcast in my ears as I work. If I am listening to music, it is normally some sort of country music of something from the 2000's

Empire Abrasives' Role

What specific Empire Abrasives products do you find most helpful in your work?

I have never used a product from Empire Abrasives that I wasn’t impressed with. I think the cutting discs and sanding disks are the best I’ve used, but the wire wheels are what I use the most of as I weld everything with flux so the clean up is imperative to my final product.

Do you have a 'go-to' Empire Abrasives product that's essential to your work?

Wire wheels

How have our products improved your process or the quality of your finished sculptures?

They have always been some of the best quality I have used and continue to be.

Specific Projects/Work

Metal art train sculpture using scrap metal parts and chainsaw chains, created by metal artist PJ Kennedy aka PFe works

Could you highlight 1-2 metal sculptures you are particularly proud of? Tell us about the challenges and the satisfying moments of their creation.

Over the last 8 years of creating art, I have had a few "Masterpieces" along the way. The Train Sculpture I made was actually my first really detailed sculpture that I put so much time into planning out and added detail to. It was an auction piece for my kids school and I really put the time (about 50 hours) into making it perfect. It was truly a neat feeling watching it get bid on at a live auction. Since then, I am proud of my "FenceLift" forklift sculpture made all out of old fence bits as well as the "Black Stallion Bust" life size horse head I made for Black Stallion Welded to take to Fabtech a few years ago. That one took a while as I made sure that all the pieces of scrap metal were mirrored on each side of the piece so that no matter what side you were on, the same item was in the same place on each side. Very challenging but a nice little touch that I wanted to add in.

My most complicated piece was my "Population Control" Gatlin Gun Sculpture that was modeled from a mini gun from the 1800's and had rotating barrels from the hand crank, a serpentine chain and aiming capabilities. The piece was very complex and took me close to 200 hours to complete. It is now on display in the waiting room at an auto shop in the state of Maryland.

"Population Control" - metal art sculpture of a gatling gun created by metal sculptor PJ Kennedy aka PFe works

Has there been a specific piece or project that made you feel like you'd really found your groove as a metal artist?

I made a duck I named "Duckasources" in the second year of this journey as an artist and that was a big step in the process. The duck had so much personality and caricature as well as a neat back story I'd made up as I created him. It was a goofy little build that really showed me I had some skills as an artist.

How do you see your art evolving in the future, and what are some of your goals or dream projects?

I hope a bigger scale. I'd like to do a 6-8 foot tall robot or some sort of animal as well someday that is able to garner attention. I will aways enjoy my #scrapmetalarmory as well as look forward to trying more challenging builds.

Do you have any works in progress, upcoming exhibitions, commissions, or other projects you'd like to promote?

Not really at this time. Life has been a bit hectic, and I haven't had any free time to create. I do have a couple of rifle sculptures in the work for some pretty popular influencers, so I am looking forward to completing those and getting them in their hands.

If your art could talk...What would one of your favorite pieces say?

Duckasources would say "What are you looking at punk?"

If you could give a title to your workspace, what would it be?

Duckasaurus metal art sculpture by scrap metal artist PJ Kennedy aka PFe works

Cramped Creative Chaos .... My side of the shop is rather small, and I have to pack a lot into it. I am also organizing tools and junk with the occasional motorcycle mixed in for good measure.

Advice and Community:

What inspired you to start sharing your work on social media, and how has the platform helped grow your following and exposure?

Social media is not the only thing that got me to first create, but it is my only real form of advertisement and connecting with potential customers. I try to share everything I make and stay up on the current trends of the platforms, but they are also changing so much it can be hard to be on the leading edge. My original IG account had a pretty good following of 24K, but it was hacked a few years ago and it has been hard to get traction on that app to regain the following. Doing promos and collabs has helped but the algorithm doesn't seem to be much of a fan of me these days.

How would you describe the current metal art scene? Is it supportive, competitive, or a mix of both?

It is a mix of both for sure. Some people are very competitive with their pieces and will block you so you can not "steal" their ideas, which I get, but no one will ever be able to copy the way someone else makes something exactly the same.

I have found a good portion of the community to be very supportive and helpful, which is very refreshing in this day and age.

Are there any trends in metal art that you find exciting?

I wouldn’t say it's a trend, but it seems like a lot more people are making trophies for events which I think is a good place that sculptures like mine fit.

What advice would you give to other artists or makers who are considering working with metal or similar materials?

Just do it! Make something that you want to or look at the metal and see what it is shaped to be. Make gifts for people and give them away as gifts. You may see the flaws in the pieces but the person you give it to will only see how neat the thing you made is.

Weld art by metal artist PJ Kennedy aka PFe works, scrap metal rooster sculpture made of spoons, forks, and wrenches welded together

Are there other metal sculptors or resources you find inspiring within the community?

Cold Hard Art is one of the best using new metal and making trophies for sure. I love seeing his stuff. Street Trendz Metal Art is a machine and is very creative with his use of old car parts and can crank out a lot of them. And Mr. Scott of Bucket Of Bolts is one of the guys I looked up to when I started because his art is so clean and he makes all sorts of things that look so different yet the same.

Are there any up-and-coming metal artists in the community that you think deserve more attention?

Darrell at Olsen Metal Art has some real skills and so does @madebyelija, he has an interesting style and puts some cool finishes on his art. 

"FenceLift" forklift sculpture made all out of old fence bits - metal art by artist aka PJ Kennedy aka PFe works

Thank you, PJ, for being such a positive and creative force in the metal art community and for taking the time to share your story with us. We're excited to see what the future holds for you and your art. For those interested in seeing more of PJ's work, follow him on his social media platforms.