Patton MS teacher turns junk into robotic scultpures

Courtesy of Brian Marshall Junkyards, garage sales, flea markets and even eBay have all been useful resources for Brian Marshall when he hunts for pieces.
Courtesy of Brian Marshall People from around the world are interested in Brian Marshall's creations and will sometimes send him items to create a new robot.

One man’s junk is another man’s masterpiece and for Charles F. Patton Middle School teacher Brian Marshall, he creates robotic sculptures with them.

He uses anything from silverware to spice cans and pencil sharpeners and everything in between.

“I use a lot of tins and a lot of pencil sharpeners and a promise I don’t steal them from school,” Marshall said. “The pencil sharpeners always get a good reaction because if you take them off the mount, they look like a mouth. It was just made to be a little, egg-shaped guy.”

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Growing up around a father who was construction worker and a mother who enjoyed going around to garage sales, it was no wonder Marshall went into a hobby which involved creating sculptures out of ordinary objects.

“He’d find an old pulley and some rope he found on the job and would bring home and make a zip line in the backyard,” Marshall said. “He was always tearing apart motors and other stuff.”

He’s been creating things since he was a child with Legos and Lincoln Logs, but got into the sculptures 10 years ago.

“I started off doing found objects like lamps and clocks and chandeliers from tables,” Marshall said “Then one day I flipped over a teapot and the lid became the mouth and the spout became the nose and it looked like a face.”

It was the beginning of his Adopt-A-Bot which he has become known around the world for.

“I started making what I call the Night Watchmen and that was basically a head, neck and shoulders which would sit on a table and were nightlights. The eyes would light up. Eventually they sprouted arms and legs and before I knew it, I was overrun by little guys.

“I’m a creative person and think outside the box. All I did was bolt a few things together, it’s no big deal. Sometimes I don’t think I fully get it. I love going out and finding all kind of weird stuff.”

Marshall will search high and wide for parts to use by continuing his mom’s tradition of shopping at garage sales. He expands upon that by also visiting junk yards and metal recyclers and even sometimes visits eBay for a specific object.

But there are times now when the pieces will come to him.

“Sometimes I’ll get stuff mailed to me or people put stuff in boxes and say if you’re in the area come get it,” Marshall said. “I found stuff on my doorstep before. Last Christmas, my mom collected stuff from garage sales and my big box from her was a big box of junk. It was the best gift ever.”

All of these things he collects or receives has to go somewhere in his house and unfortunately, his basement has become the victim.

“My basement is a disaster,” Marshall said. “My basement is full, from floor to ceiling, of shelves with all kinds of parts from kitchen stuff to laboratory stuff to automotive parts to roller skates. You name it, I’ve got it. Some things I don’t even know what they are.”

Since posting his work online, Marshall’s sculptures have become known and bought from around the world, with hits sometimes coming from other countries more than the United States.

A restaurant located in a museum in one of the Scandinavian countries has even contacted him for one of his creations.

“It pays for itself as a hobby,” Marshall said. “I’ve sent them all over the world. I just put stuff out there. If you like it great, if it’s not your thing, that’s okay, too. It usually brings a smile to most people’s faces.”

About the Author

Candice Monhollan

Candice Monhollan is a 2012 Temple University graduate. She loves to cover sports, especially hockey. She enjoys marching with the Reading Buccaneers Drum & Bugle Corps and has a love of U.S. military history, which includes reenacting. Reach the author at cmonhollan@dailylocal.com .