I have been working iron since I was fourteen years old. I was fortunate to have an outbuilding to convert into a blacksmith shop. There, I worked iron with a hammer and an anvil, heating the iron in the 19th century cast iron forge which belonged to my great-grandfather for use on the family farm.
As an industrial arts minor in college, I studied mechanical drawing, metallurgy, jewelry, and machining. Following college I worked for a nationally known blacksmith in Ohio, Mike Bendele. There I was able to observe and work for an artist making his living with ironwork. In addition to many physical processes, I learned the importance of very critical self evaluation, attention to detail and thoughtful design, all of which are necessary for success in this field. After working there for three years, I moved to New York, where I worked for Arrowsmith Forge, a business which made ironwork which was sold wholesale to stores in New York City and around the nation. This was a more production-oriented setting, and it introduced me to the efficiency of dies and processes which enable that level of production and which I use in my ironwork today.
I returned to my Michigan studio in 1998. My wife and I work together in the building I began using when I was fourteen years old. I expanded the original studio and equipped it with dozens of old machines for working iron. Many of these machines date from the 19th century, and some are sole survivors of their type from that era. With these machines I am able to move iron in ways which otherwise would be impossible, allowing me to express myself in ways no other artist can.
I am inspired by nature and man’s inseparable relationship with it. My work reflects society’s growing awareness that man and nature must work together.
Iron is essential to all life, from the plants’ nourishment to the blood which carries oxygen through our veins. Singled out by man over four thousand years ago, iron is the foundation of cultures worldwide, and it has enabled both great beauty and horrific destruction. The balance between these two–beauty and destruction, nature and man–is appropriately represented by the material which is so central to each. Iron is the most versatile and the most expressive of any material. It allows thin, curved lines while retaining structural integrity not possible with any other medium. It is capable of straight, rigid lines (man) and curved, flowing lines (nature). It is the medium most capable of representing the relationship between man and nature.