An engineer’s design: Castoffs into creations
By Hannah Mitchell CHARLOTTE — Eleven years ago, when Tom Risser was 35, the Charlotte engineer and business owner got to thinking about all the leftover metal his company shipped to the scrap yard. What a waste, he thought. Then his mind turned to the pieces of art he sometimes saw at shows and in art galleries, designs made from stray nuts and bolts and other metal scraps. He started tossing into 55-gallon drums the castoffs accumulated at U.S. Bottlers Machinery Co., the manufacturer of fluid-packaging machines that his great-grandfather started more than 100 years ago. Then Risser taught himself to weld, and he set up a metal outbuilding at his Waxhaw home. Soon, the scrap metal turned into sculptures large and small: a fish, a skateboarder, a flower. The engineer had become an artist.