Building The Shield
A few weeks ago First Tactical Lead Designer Cory Nykoluk and I visited a local police officer who reached out after reading our “Off The Clock” section and mentioned that he has an interesting hobby we might be interested in.
Little did we know that when he told us “he works with metal” we would walk into a workshop filled incredible projects.
Jeff specializes in designing, cutting and welding steel to create unique signs, ideal for wall art. He has designed signs off all types and sizes, some company logos, some law enforcement shields, and some personal logos. Along with new metal pieces he enjoys turning old metal items into fantastic pieces of furniture and decor. A bit of a reluctant businessman, Jeff has kept this little gem a hobby and has not stepped out into the business world. He said if he opens a business it would be called Rusted26. The “Rusted” for his love of rusty metal and the “26” for the atomic number of Iron on the periodic table.
“I started making these signs for people after they found out I had the ability to," said Jeff,"The Police shields are a hit with a lot of the law enforcement community.”
Jeff attempts to donate what he can, a few of his signs were given to the families of the recent fallen officers of the area. He also gifts signs to retirees which he has worked with over the years.
His passion for turning old items into re-purposed items is apparent throughout his house. His art includes a collection of shiny new metal pieces and metal works with fascinating rustic/patina looks.
“I would get sick and tired of stuff laying around but I can’t justify throwing it away," said Jeff, "People think rust is a bad thing but rusted metal turns out awesome pieces."
The rusted patina is a huge emphasis for Jeff, who is adamant about not painting. Throughout our conversation his hatred of painting was reiterated to us several amusing times. He outsources his painting jobs to his significant other, S.B.
While best known for his wall art and shields, Jeff has an extensive collection of pieces throughout his house and patio including:
- Half of an old metal bed frame that now live as awnings on the shed he built and the other half has been repurposed into the American Flag which also hangs on the shed. (painted by S.B.)
- Some discarded metal bank cabinets that have been repurposed into rolling bamboo planter boxes
- He has even taken some old metal and an old filing cabinet and turned that into a mini-vineyard
- Two new metal wall-mounted succulent planter boxes, he will allow to rust out
- A, from scratch, fire pit that he designed with new metal left over from the signs.
Currently, Jeff is kept busy from his many requests on Facebook but hopes to one day turn his hobby into more of a business.
"My only worry is that I'm too much of a perfectionist," said Jeff, "And I don't want this to become too much of 'another job'. "
Jeff’s next project is constructing a Rusted26 Facebook page. Be sure to like the page for images of his work, reach out about having something made, and support a talented (non-painting) LEO. Check that out here.
Jeff has also provided the following email for departments or others who may be interested in obtaining a sign or shield. Rusted26@gmail.com
Have an interesting hobby? Email us at Editor@firsttactical.com for a chance to be featured in a future "Off The Clock".