I do metalworking primarily in mild steel. Forging and fabrication techniques and old and modern tools all apply to my work.
I have been fascinated with science especially biology for as long as my memory. When I first started learning how to forge I tried making almost anything but gradually settled mostly on biological organic forms, but there really isn’t anything intrinsically life-like in iron.
A famous artist blacksmith once said that iron has great strength and yet also has the capacity to appear light, graceful and delicate. “It has this capacity — but no desire. It will do nothing by itself except resist you. All the desire, and all the knowledge of how to impart this desire to the iron, must come from the smith.’’ It is a stubborn material. The smith learns to use fire and force to encourage the metal to move. At a high heat steel has a plasticity similar to glass and clay but still requires a lot more force to shape.
I don’t make much distinction in whether a creation is seen as functional or sculptural. I’m satisfied if I like the line, the finish, the overall effect. The product is a necessity but most of the enjoyment is experienced in the process – seeing the science of art in the interaction of the mind, the metal, the fire and the force.
Cold black iron flaunts an aura of permanence. Yet artful flowers in iron suggest something akin to the Japanese concept of Wabi-sabi. I can see it in every creation. Something imperfect, incomplete and, ultimately, impermanent.