Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Making Faces




I began shaping faces in copper while I worked as a metalsmith and made copper fountains behind Knox Campbell Gallery in Tucson during the early to mid 1970s. The gallery sold my fountains. Jim Knox and Gary Campbell were kind enough to allow me to work in the area behind their gallery. I would carve the face in wood and then use it as a form to hammer the metal onto. I made two of these faces and then combined them into a flask that I gifted to my printmaking instructor at Pima College Darla Masterson. Darla had a definite influence on my sensibility and pushed me to look and understand what I was seeing. From her I learned the subtleties of edge definition.

In 1978 I created a reliquary during my tenure at the Visual Arts Center in Anchorage that once again incorporated two faces. This time I used repousse and chasing to create them. The making of faces became a regular exercise when I returned to Tucson in 1981 and I would make these during metalworking demonstrations for a short television spot and annually for the Old Pueblo Lapidary Gem and Mineral Shop at the Tucson Community Center. It was wonderful to be able to sit and create these faces before a stream of people who would watch as I took simple disks of copper and sterling and form them into faces. These faces were not put to practical use until I used small faces for a pin swap at the SNAG conference held in Flagstaff, Arizona in 1986. I later made a 10th wedding anniversary gift for my wife in 1987 that incorporated a smiling sun face. (see image 'a') I’ve received a few commissions for faces in gold that were made during those years and have no images of them.

In March I taught a two day workshop in Tucson on the making of faces and it was well attended and well received. We made tools first and then used them to make the faces. I’m scheduled to do a face making demo for the Arizona Artisan Blacksmiths Association during their November meeting in Phoenix.
Most of the faces I have made are for study, fun and demonstrations. ('b' & 'c') I suspect that the faces will creep into my work in the future.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Studies in repousse and chasing

I have been drawn to the processes of repousse and chasing since I began metalsmithing in the ‘70s. I still have my first pitch bowl with the black pitch that I found difficult to work with. I attempted a few pieces and had minimal success. I still have the uncompleted sterling design that sat in the pitch bowl for years after. I juried and was accepted to study and work at the Visual Arts Center in Anchorage, Alaska. Deborah Nore introduced me to the pitch from Northwest Pitchworks. Years later I attended a free workshop on the Japanese technique of uchidashi held at the University of Arizona and taught by Eleanor Moty. Eleanor taught me the subtleties of moving the metal that has allowed me to push my exploration of metals elasticity.

I had the good fortune of being asked to make several sets of Japanese uchidashi tools for one of many workshops that Eleanor Moty has taught at the City of Tucson Parks and Recreation Center under the fabulous guidance of Jeanne Jerousek- McAninch. It is through Jeanne’s efforts that the center is one of the best places to take workshop taught by some of the nation’s best metalsmiths and artists. The tool making exercise was one of the most valuable teaching tools I have experienced. I continue to pass on these tool making skills to my students whenever the interest arises.

The following examples were created over the last several years and I continue to make tools and hone my skills in this seductive technique.
Gingko leaves modeled in a 4x4”18 gauge copper sheet.

The beetle is approximately 1.5” long. Repousse and chasing in 18 gauge copper.


Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Summer at Idyllwild Art Academy

I am preparing for a week long workshop that I have been asked to teach at Idyllwild Art Academy in the mountains of southern California. Metals Week The teachers and students are required to provide all the tools needed for the workshops and so I have designed a portable anvil to be used during the class. Six of these are complete and I am working on a seventh that I am using to demonstrate the construction. I will write a short paper and may get it published.

The anvils were recently loaned out for a forging workshop and they held up very well under weight of the hammers. My thanks to John Cogswell and his students for field testing them for me and a special thanks to Pat and Terry Glover for their help in making the anvils.

I am working on forging brooches and neck collars to be exhibited at the school during the workshop. I need to complete commissions for collars before I leave in June and have a commission for a large brooch to complete when I return.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


I have made the first step in creating a blog and later a website of my work and my passion. I am a self taught metalsmith with a desire to share what I know and understand. This blog is a beginning.