Last year in 2022 William had the idea to create an acorn out of recycled horseshoes. From its humble beginning it grew in popularity. It was a huge hit with followers and found a permanent home at The Acorn Shepherd’s Hut based on the Suffolk/Essex border.

The Shepherd’s Hut, Suffolk/Essex border.

Fast forward to 2023, and he decided to re-create this classic sculpture. In this blog entry we are going to share with you some of the processes involved in creating the unique acorn sculptures.

The Beginning

So where does it begin? William is very creative and often ideas will just come to him, at which point he grabs a pen, pad and gets sketching. These simple sketches are then turned into more specific and detailed plans to include approximate measurements, material types and the skill sets needed to bring them to life.

Sketchbook of William Moulton-Day or Rusty Creations.

Sourcing Materials

Next, there is the matter of locating the required materials (specific for each project). The primary construction of the acorn is horseshoes. William uses horseshoes sourced from local farriers across Essex & Suffolk. The horseshoes can be of different metals including steel, copper & aluminium. For the acorn project, steel shoes are used throughout. These used horseshoes create a great way to re-purpose and recycle them. The final element required is the acorns stalk, this is a large oak tree branch. William goes on the hunt for large fallen branches that fit within the design, again this is another great way to give new life to fallen tree timber.

Recycled horseshoes being delivered to the Rusty Creations workshop

Horseshoes arriving at the Rusty Creations workshop.

The Magic Begins

After this, the real magic begins! The first part of the sculpture being the nut element of the acorn. Comprising of two layers, each layer is made from individual horseshoes that are welded together in an interlocked pattern. Using two layers helps William to achieve the perfect nut shape, which he creates purely by eye, without using any molds or formers.

Progression image of the acorn nut element in the workshop

The acorn nut element in construction.

The Acorn Cup

Once the nut structure is complete William moves on to the acorn’s cup (shell). Here each shoe is heated up in the forge, then individually moulded into shape by hand using a hammer and quenched in water. The forging and quenching process is repeated multiple times on one shoe until William decides the metal is shaped how he needs it in order to form the acorn cup shape.

Progression of the acorn sculpture, adding the forged shell/cup element

Adding the shell/cup to the nut.

The cup case and nut are then welded together, and you will notice they appear to be different colours. The reason for this being that the horseshoes used in the nut are in their natural rusty state. However, in the cup casing they are heated up in the forge, this process removes the surface rust leaving the metal clean and darker in colour. Over time these will re-rust and match the body of the acorn.

The nut/shell completed, and close up of forged shoe colour difference.

Finishing Touches

The final part of the acorn creation is the cup stem. When the right size and shape oak branch is found, it then needs to be attached to the body of the acorn. The forge is again used to heat up horseshoes which are then straightened out by hand. This forms the attachment between the branch and the acorn structure, which is secured into place using recycled horseshoe nails.

Forged horseshoe attaching stem to acorn

Close up of branch attachment.

Acorn sculptures take approx. 100 hours to create and take a great deal of skill and craftsmanship. Due to the nature of recycled horseshoes each sculpture is truly a one-off piece.

If you would like a unique focal point for a garden, business or event, an acorn sculpture is sure to be a showstopper. Contact William for more information.

Fancy checking out the acorn sculpture in the flesh? Find out more about staying at The Acorn Shepherd’s Hut below.

From Small Acorns Grow Mighty Oaks