Randy Leblanc is renowned for his intricate and extensive metal works
Metal fabricator and artist Randy LeBlanc has always loved creating, ever since he was a child playing with blocks and Lego. Then in college, at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, one class really lit a fire under him.
“It was an intro course in design on hands-on steel, but I fell in love with it,” recalls LeBlanc. “The first time I got to bend a piece of metal, I felt empowered to move something so strong, to get to create beauty as well as function.”
Then one month after getting his degree in sculpture, LeBlanc opened Metal Head, Inc., a design and fabrication shop. In the last 20 years, he’s completed thousands of art-quality pieces, from ornamental fences and garden gates to outdoor furniture and intricately designed staircase railings. If it can be done to metal, LeBlanc can do it: forge, cut, shape, manipulate, bend, fasten, weld, patina and install.
LeBlanc has worked with a variety of metals, including brass, steel, copper, stainless steel, iron and aluminum. Lately, he’s been using a lot of aluminum for outdoor projects because of its resemblance to wood. “It’s light but durable and doesn’t warp or crack,” says LeBlanc. “It can really handle the South’s heat and rain.”
LeBlanc creates his own designs, replicates historic pieces and works alongside clients to bring their own ideas to fruition.
“Anyone can order something pretty from a catalog,” says LeBlanc.
"For outdoor spaces, I like to work alongside the landscaper, to know the different textures & patterns, colors & hardscape surfaces, & then create truly a custom piece designed for a client’s specific space."
Some of his work may take a day, while other projects take years. One of his largest projects, and biggest challenges, was a curved double-staircase railing for a home in Lafayette, Louisiana. He created it in nine pieces, and each weighed around 200 pounds. Construction on the new home was delayed, so his finished work sat inside his 5,000-square-foot shop for months before it could be installed.
Living in Louisiana among Spanish and French ironwork is an inspiration for himself as well as his clients, says LeBlanc. “I had to replicate an old Louis XV style, hand-forged iron work for a client once,” says LeBlanc. “I do have lasers and AutoCAD, but I also have a 200-year-old anvil."
"Even with modern technology, at the end of the day, fire is fire & heat & pressure are still doing the work."
(Left) Gate Design Detail (Right) Ornate Design Work
LeBlanc works mostly alone, but he credits his wife with keeping him organized. “Monique is the unsung hero behind the scenes— without her, I’d be that erratic artist with a ball of receipts in my cupholder,” he laughs.
The LeBlancs’ daughters, who are in middle school and high school, are both creative as well—sewing, knitting and painting. “It’s such a joy to see their artistic talent and watch them figure out their own style and technique,” says LeBlanc. Undoubtedly inspired by his daughters, LeBlanc keeps stretching himself to learn new techniques and work with more materials. “I’ve really gotten out of my comfort zone in the past few years, but that’s the only way to grow.”