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[New Orchid Gallery] Steve Shelby


#1

Steve Shelby

I first learned how to use a hammer at about three years of age, and
as a child learned woodworking from my father. I was always curious
about metal, but didn’t get the opportunity to work with metal until
about the age of 20. I didn’t get the inspiration for my current
genre of work until I was in my mid-50’s. The time in between was not
wasted, but rather laid the foundation for what I’m doing now. The
work I do requires hours of hammering, which seems like it should be
tedious, but for me is sort of meditative or even trance-inducing,
and I get so absorbed in the process that I lose track of time. My
artwork does not have a message or a cause; I’m simply trying to
share my love of nature through my art.

I use brass because I like the color, not necessarily highly polished
brass, but the subtle mellow shades of aged brass. I also like its
durability; when I make something, I want to think it will still be
around many generations from now, and not be ruined by simply getting
dropped on the floor. I don’t strive for a perfectly smooth surface
on the metal, preferring to leave the hammer marks showing. I love
the shimmering quality this gives the piece when viewing it from
different angles.

I live out in the country, working by myself, and all of my ideas
come from my head, which has stored innumerable images of living
things, gathered from a lifetime of observing nature up close. These
images are synthesized into metal forms that suggest plant or animal
shapes mostly in a non-literal way. New ideas often come to me while
I’m working on a piece, or sometimes they may just pop into my head
unexpectedly while I’m doing something totally unrelated. My goal is
to produce forms in metal that are beautiful, simple and elegant,
constructed and finished in a way that is honest and straightforward.

-Bird2, Hammer-formed one-piece brass bird perched on solid brass
rod, 4 in. tall.

-Goblet, constructed and formed from three pieces of brass, 6 in.
tall.

-Pod, hammer-formed brass, one piece, with glass marbles, 3 in. tall.

-Watering Can, hammer-formed brass in three pieces, raised body, 7
in. tall.