The People News, a free newspaper serving Cleveland Tennessee (TN) and Bradley County Tennessee (Tn).

Of Bradley County Tn.


                            The People News, a free newspaper serving Cleveland and Bradley County Tn.

The People News
Special Report






"The Bucket Man"

Danny Hoskinson - Artist

by Alexandra Edwards

The greatest part of being a community newspaper reporter is that you get to meet some of the most amazingly talented and interesting people. Ordinary local folk who just happen to have a rare and creative talent they wish to share. One only has to visit our country fairs and festivals to see the many different forms of arts and crafts exhibited.

Some people are born with a creative talent, maybe have an artistic skill inherited from a past relative. Then there are those who show "hidden talent" that may reveal itself  later in life, purely unintentionally like the artistic flair of Danny Hoskinson of Benton, Tennessee.

Alias "The Bucket Man," Danny, a former interior/exterior house painter, first

Alexandra Edwards

found his talent while melting plastic knives, forks and spoons with a butane lighter at a July 4th picnic at Lake Lanier back in 1987. Friends were amazed as he formed the melted plastic into various shapes and sculptures. Within five years he had graduated from plastic utensils to plastic buckets. Over the years these large white 5 gallon utility buckets, most donated by local restaurants and businesses, have been recycled in the most creative and unusual way. They are transformed into some of the most mystical and intriguing works of art imaginable. Totem poles, birds, horses, aliens, figures, alligators, snakes, lampshades, dumb bells, canoes, even furniture.

Bucket Man Danny Hoskinson with his art van

You may have seen the bucket man's "art van," which is a work of art in itself, parked outside some of Cleveland's stores and restaurants but Hoskinson tends to keep himself to himself, so his unique vehicle is not a common sight around town. So many different pieces of plastic art sculptures and abstract forms are added to this incredible vehicle that it is almost impossible to take them all in with one viewing. Each time the eye scans an area,

something new becomes visible and the whole van, inside and out is one continuos art form. It is said that this vehicle is rarely the same when you next see it as it is continually evolving.

At his studio in Benton, Danny demonstrated how he makes his creations. "I originally started out making faces with buckets and I always start with the eyes," he said. Using a small propane torch, he heats the plastic to the exact temperature, which he said took a lot of practice. Using just two teaspoons, a small knife and pair of pliers, he stretches the plastic to form the eyes, nose and mouth of a face.. from there his imagination takes over. He said that after making many faces in this way, he progressed to the "meltdown" process of sculpting.  Using a larger

blowtorch, he can melt down a 5 gallon bucket into a clay-like substance, which permits greater flexibility enabling him to more precisely mold the whimsical and

wonderful characters of his imagination.

Many of his creations take between 20 and 50 melted buckets to complete. Hoskinson said he still prefers to do faces and likes to capture the character of a face in his work. "I can't stop doing faces, I'd like to take it to its limits," he said, as he pointed to a caricature he did of an Elvis impersonator as an example.

Originally from Knoxville, Danny came home to Tennessee after being raised by his father in California. Having what he calls a "free spirit" he chose to live his life in virtual solitude on a few acres in the country, where he could live as he pleased and do

his own thing. Over the years, he has achieved this. On his 3 acre property, he originally built his house over a camper trailer using scrap wood. He then removed the camper and added a tin roof. Over the past fifteen years he has acquired all he needed to make a house a home. A stove, a television, stereo, refrigerator, a bath tub and commode. His home is extremely rustic yet surprisingly cozy and is filled with art, not only his own but that of many well-known artists he has traded his work with.

A later addition is the workshop/studio, which was also made of scrap wood collected during his employment as a painter. During his house painting years he was known locally as the "barefoot painter" as he preferred to work barefoot. Not any more though, "now I wear open sandals because I was sick of stubbing my toe," he said. Health problems forced him to give up his painting job but

he makes a little money from the many awards he wins for his art.

His work has been exhibited at Cleveland State Community College where he recently gave a seminar on torched plastics. He has been guest artist at several top Folk Art Festivals and "Art Car shows" across the country including The Kentuck Art Show in Alabama, The Houston Museum of Art, The Visual and Literacy Arts Festival Baltimore, The Finster Fest, Atlanta Folk Fest, Atlanta Artscape, the Athens Fest, Magic City Art Connection to name just a few.

Hoskinson, who simply signs his work "Hoss" says, "While working, I like to think that I am teaching the plastic to be art and the plastic is teaching me to be the artist." He also added, "This is all part of a complete recycling process, one day I hope to find a good use for all discarded plastic.. something that we can all use ... maybe something like bricks for construction."

"The Bucket Man" could become an inventor for a future use of recycled plastics but in the meantime it is his torch art that is bringing him fame. Danny Hoskinson can be contacted at 423-338-4438