Sunday, October 5, 2014

A new beginning

Metal cracks when it is over worked. In mechanics, it is called "metal fatigue" and a lot of thought goes into the design of equipment, cars and airplanes to avoid it. After all, no one wants the wings cracking off a plane in mid air or the axle of a car snapping on the road. One of the first lessons a metalsmith learns is how to anneal metal, making work hardened material flexible again and avoiding the dreaded cracks.

Personally, I love the cracks. They capture something of the nature of the material. They reflect the unpredictability of nature in their curves. They are pretty.

Many years ago, I forged this heart as a cathartic exercise.

It is still a favorite piece of mine and it is quite expressive of that moment in my life. But I moved on, kept making other pieces and I never went back to cracking metal again.

But the motif kept showing up in my sketches and in my mind. Today, I decided it was time to take it up again. I prepared some metal, cast a button and got to work.

This wasn't the crack I was expecting. I wanted something more dramatic, branching out across the metal. Something that made a statement. Instead, I got an almost clean break. My first reaction was to toss it back in the crucible and start again. But this is what nature gave me, so this is what I will work with. If I want to explore an unpredictable process, I have to be willing to work with what I get.

Now, let's get designing.

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