A rusty nail protruding from a wall in Greece. The sparkle of city lights in the night sky in New York. The intricate details of a gothic spire in Barcelona. A manhole cover faded with age in Ireland. The stunning tile sidewalks in Horta. Rocks weathered by the surf’s continual pounding in Jamaica.
Texture Inspires Me to Greater Heights
Texture: Everywhere I travel, I see the sights through the lens of texture. C.A. Woolf wrote that “What has been seen cannot be unseen.” That’s true for me when my mind focuses on the texture seen in a city, on a beach or forest path, a sidewalk with its manhole covers or decorative pavers, the architectural elements of a building.
I see beauty in an object’s form, and often that beauty demands my attention at the workbench. Images percolate in my mind and I begin to envision the potential of a building on the skyline, a shape in a museum display, the roughness of a stone, the pattern in a vintage door, the twist and turn of wrought iron railings and window boxes.
The Toys in My Toolbox
So how does all of this translate to my designs? Through the tools in my toolbox…the years of learning metalsmithing, making my own tools, trial and error (and sometimes error is the best teacher). As fulfilling as a finished piece is to me, it’s the journey to discovering it and bringing it to life that truly captivates and motivates me. How can I get from point A, something I’ve seen, to point B, incorporating it into my work? That’s the challenge, and the joy, in doing what I do.
The workbench is only as good as the time spent at it, honing my craft and experimenting with materials, all the while trusting my own vision. Over the years, I have discovered that creating texture in metals is one of my favorite steps in the creative process, my “signature style” if you will.
The Game Changer
The real game changer was learning to use an Arc Welder. There is no heat, no open flame, and no messy solder joints. It is a clean and precise way to combine metals, shape them, or create texture and gives us much more time for creativity, not to mention all the new techniques. (Occasionally my hair stands on end, but for the first time in my career I’m not in danger of burning off an eyebrow!) It’s an intensely focused process, and demands complete attention, but learning to weld opened up a whole new world for me.
Small hand tools are also mighty (big) when it comes to adding texture or depth to metal (like the Edge Metal and Elements collections). I love hand texturing metal and knowing that each piece is unique. Handmade markings simply cannot be duplicated from one piece to the next. I leave a little bit of myself with each mark of the tools.
Seeing an intriguing texture and recreating it or incorporating it into a collection is both challenging and exciting. Once seen, it can’t be unseen…but I can learn and grow from what I’ve seen, and create new dimensions with a little time and trust at my workbench.
Have tools, will texture…
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