Oil drum sculptures are found throughout the Caribbean, but the art is truly Haitian. Hundreds of independent Haitian metal artists strive to make a sustainable living by exporting their pieces from a country where political strife and lack of tourism eliminated most sales outlets. Most learned the craft from their fathers, cousins, neighbors, and friends. They typically begin as laborers, then advance to apprentices. Experienced artisans often open their own workshops, employing a new generation of laborers and apprentices, to the overall betterment of the community.
Used oil drums are no longer readily available. They are imported into Haiti by container and sold to the artisans. Even though new, less expensive steel sheets could be used, artisans rely on used drums for the patina. Patinas range in color from gray/silver to brown/black. It is not uncommon to see multiple patinas on one sculpture. Still, many buyers prefer the gray/silver tones. So, most of the sculptures coming from Haiti today are closer to gunmetal gray in color.