Bulger's Beat: Lebanon man creates steel fire pits - WSMV Channel 4

Bulger's Beat: Lebanon man creates steel fire pits found worldwide

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LEBANON, TN (WSMV) -

Fire, steel and creativity have driven men to build big things for thousands of years, and that formula is now working well for one man in Lebanon.

Rick Wittrig grew up in a Mennonite village, where he learned all about welding and working with steel. He never did much with that skill until the economy went sour a few years ago and put an end to his car dealership days.

"This is just recycled steel we use, and we're going to turn it into something special," Wittrig said.

The welding creates the spark, but it's the creative spark in Wittrig's mind that leads to his collection, Fire Pit Art.

His artistic fire pits have found their way to the Vancouver Olympics, and several hotels, theme parks and homes from Mongolia to Rome.

The finished product is beautiful, but nothing about the crafting process is easy.

"This is hard work. It's heavy. It's loud. During the summer, it's really, really hot - a smoky environment," Wittrig said. "We love it. It works."

His work was inspired by purchasing a fire pit that didn't live up to its potential.

"Took it home and filled it with firewood. It fell apart and caught the yard on fire. It was crazy. I looked at my wife and said, 'I can make a better one than that,'" Wittrig said.

Now, he does. He gave up selling cars and bought 20,000 pounds of steel.

"That's when you take your coins and you push them all in the center. You're all in," Wittrig said.

And this artist promises much more to come.

"I've got more ideas than I've got time to make them," he said.

Wittrig's fire pits have a very long shelf life. To see a photo gallery of his creations and shop for your back yard, visit: http://www.firepitart.com/.

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