CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Nik Botkin put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into his newest creation - a 36-pound red tailed hawk made of kitchen utensils such as knives, spoons, forks, nutcrackers, nutpicks and even an ice cream scoop.
It was the knives - the hawk's wing feathers - that drew the blood.
"I got cut like 10 times," said Botkin, 35, of Nitro.
He welded and hammered together the piece, which he has named the Saber Hawk, over about two months. The process took him on a personal journey through inception, creation, frustration and, finally, accomplishment.
Botkin said he was often frustrated with how his work went - accounting for the sweat and tears.
He had to custom cut each individual spoon handle used in the hawk's wing and bend them one at a time, he said.
This part of the process was the most time consuming and emotionally draining, Botkin said.
"Me and this hawk fought a lot," he said. "We had a rocky relationship.
"But we made up in the end."
Saber Hawk made its public debut April 18 at Botkin's studio, Apartment Earth, during ArtWalk in downtown Charleston.
But that was not the first day the hawk was seen: Botkin had chronicled its creation and his journey on Facebook.
He posted pictures of himself creating the armature from a 22-foot rod and of turning the utensils into the bird of prey.
"I posted everything - the good and the bad," he said.
He used Facebook to document his artistic journey as well as the process of craftsmanship.
"I don't know if this is a universal thing for sculptors, but to me the process is the most interesting part," he said. "To me, the process is kind of more important than the finished product."
Botkin would often second-guess himself as he posted photos, wondering, "Will the pictures take away from the final response?" Or do they "subtract from the magic?"
But people responded as he posted, and anticipation built for the final product.
"People started to get more and more excited about it," he said. "And that got me more and more excited."
The comments pushed Botkin to keep working.
Posting also helped him critique his work. For example, while Botkin was hanging the metal bird to take pictures, he thought it appeared too posed.
"The pose seemed robotic," he said. "It seemed like it was just a hunk of metal."
He concluded, "It is just a hunk of metal, but I wanted to bring it to life."
So Botkin reposed it, moving the head slightly as well as the legs to make it look more lifelike.