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      Welder turns scrap metal into art

      Tom Lakenen is a welder and junk artist who turns metal into masterpieces.

      "You have to have a good pile of scrap iron and I suppose a little bit of an imagination and some free time, and that's how it all came about," said Lakenen.

      Lakenen is the creator of what he calls Lakenenland, and it started about 15 years ago.

      "I quit drinking and needed something to do to keep out of the bars and just keep occupied in my time off working construction, and I just started building metal sculptures," Lakenen said.

      Junk art started collecting in front of his home, but it grew so big, all of his art ended up on 37 acres of land in Chocolay Township.

      "This is my pet alligator made out of a bunch of old rebar that I got from some school in Marquette," Lakenen said.

      With over 80 sculptures, Lakenen said the Big Dipper is his favorite.

      "This one because there's no snow that sticks to it in the winter. All the others, it takes me two to three hours to blow all of the snow off of it," Lakenen said.

      The sculpture park, made up of unique creations, is located off of M-28. It is free of charge and open 24 hours a day.

      "Some of this junk, I don't really know what I'm starting on, and I start playing around with it, and when I get done with it, it doesn't look anything like what I originally intended. I just keep working on it until it looks like something," Lakenen said.