- City Guides
A Steampunk Menagerie
Tom Samui fabricates animals and fantasy creatures from recycled car and motorcycle parts
Wednesday, January 15, 2020
Think of it as an un-natural history museum. Visit Tom Samui’s showroom near Zurich, Switzerland, and you’ll see a gallery of life-sized creatures—lions, dragons, maybe a T-Rex, and more—all fabricated from recycled car and motorcycle parts. Projects have included a 20-foot-tall King Kong and a pair of 10-foot elephants named Honey and Bro. He also makes life-size replicas of cars and motorcycles.
Samui finds the parts during monthly visits to a junkyard. After they are cleaned and sorted, he welds them together following hand-drawn plans. Then they’re polished and finally painted with an anti-rust lacquer coating. The process takes about 400 hours for a large sculpture. The finished sculptures can be disassembled and shipped anywhere in the world.
He can also produce custom sculptures from drawings, photos, or models. They can range from 3 feet (1m) to 33 feet (10m). He’ll accept projects under 3 feet, but the minimum order is 20 pieces. Production time is two to three months.
Marco Mahler, a kinetic sculptor in Richmond, Virginia, helps Samui sell the sculptures to customers in North America. The two were boyhood friends in Switzerland.
Mahler specializes in mobiles. One of his pieces can be seen in The Upside, a 2019 film starring Bryan Cranston, Kevin Hart and Nicole Kidman.