Ptolemy Elrington, the founder of Hubcap Creatures, turns scraps into incredible animal sculptures. He builds the creatures using 95% recycled materials which include shopping trolleys, scrap metal, and hubcaps. The other 5% comes from upcycled materials that he happens to come across. Ptolemy chooses to leave any scars or marks on the materials, as he believes they “add texture and history to the creatures they decorate.”
He says: “I’m an artist, I’m a professional sculptor; I’ve been doing it for 18 years now and I love it!”
Using welding tools, drills, and screwdrivers, he brings the hubcap creatures to life. He’s created some amazing animal sculptures so far, such as a fox, shark, wolf and dragonfly. On his website, he offers both made-to-order sculptures and previously constructed creations.
Some of his artwork for sale includes the following:
- 3m high samurai, complete with a sword and armor
- an adorable red and white fox
- a 1.3m long MiG fighter jet
- a dragon and egg, which has a glow-in-the-dark feature
- a metallic owl with a BMW emblem for an eye
- a greyhound dog
- a beautiful African grey parrot
- a giant mechanical spider, and more
“When I see a particular animal and I really like the look of it, I think that I want to try to capture the essence of that animal, to try to capture the feeling of that animal,” he says. “It’s something that I’m always striving to do in my work. And so far, I have never quite got there, and that is one of the things that drives me to keep on making stuff, to keep trying, and to keep on doing new things.”
It seems that there’s no limit to what Ptolemy can create.
So, how did he get started making animal sculptures?
“I’ve always loved drawing, I’ve always loved making stuff,” he says. “I’ve been inspired by all of the things around me, by nature especially. A lot of it is to do with the idea that people should stop chucking away stuff and start reusing it.”
It’s true that the world throws away perfectly good items much of the time. Instead of getting rid of things the second they’re no longer useful, however, we should donate or recycle them. This not only helps the environment, but gives the items a new purpose and extends their life.
According to his site, he studied art and design at Bradford and Illkley Community College in England during the mid-80s. After college, he took jobs doing theatre set and stage design and construction, large scale community art sculptural projects, and freelance artwork.
All of this experience culminated in him being able to create his own business following his passion full-time. He works alone, but he wouldn’t have it any other way. Many artists work best in solitude because it allows them to concentrate fully on their craft. While he spends most of his time in his workshop, he also does exhibitions in the community.
He’s been asked to make appearances all over Europe, including in London, Brighton, Scotland, Barcelona, Spain and Athens, Greece. Ptolemy has also made TV appearances on British programming networks. His work has made it to the newspapers as well. The Times, The Telegraph, The Daily Mail, The Sun, and other local and international papers have featured his animal sculptures.
Major clients he’s worked for include:
- DEFRA (formerly MAFF)
- The Eden Project
- the R.S.P.B.
- The Environment Agency
- Essex County Council
- Brighton County Council
- Ronseal, Anglian Water
- East Coast Trains
- Ecover and more
He currently lives and works in Brighton, creating animal sculptures for anyone who desires one.
What inspires the Hubcap Creations owner to keep going
When you make art for a living, the daily grind sometimes takes the passion out of it. After all, when you have bills to pay, being able to put food on the table takes precedence. Even so, Ptolemy still finds his work enjoyable and couldn’t imagine doing anything else.
“Sometimes, weirdly, I find finishing a piece a little bit disappointing; sometimes, I don’t actually want to quite finish it. But because this is my profession and I need to pay the rent, I have to eventually put a piece to one side and move one, but it’s not always easy,” he says.
“People sometimes ask me what keeps me motivated and there’s the obvious things…earning your daily crust. But also, there’s something else; it’s kind of [a] deep-rooted instinct, if you like – an urge, a need, a desire to keep doing it. And if you don’t fulfill that desire, you become restless and unhappy.”
If only we could all find that spark within ourselves, the greater purpose that we’re all searching for. Ptolemy’s story proves that, when you do find it, everything just falls into place. Of course, you have to put in the effort, but when you’re in the flow, nothing can stop you. We hope that everyone out there can discover their passion in life, because we all deserve to have fulfilling jobs.
Sure, everyone has to pay bills and take on responsibilities, but that doesn’t mean we have to live a robotic existence. All of these artists we feature had to overcome immense obstacles to achieve their dreams, but the key is, they kept going. Ptolemy’s incredible animal sculptures portray a story of perseverance and strength, showing the beauty that comes from second chances.
Final thoughts on the sculptor who turns forgotten scraps into animal sculptures
When most people see hubcaps and scrap metal lying on the side of the road, they don’t give it a second thought. The owner of Hubcap Creatures actually hunts down these yard waste materials for his animal sculptures. For him, trash doesn’t exist; it’s just discarded materials that can serve a new purpose in the form of art.
We hope you enjoyed hearing about this talented artist and feel inspired to follow your own dreams! Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.