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.
Photo Credit: Steve Shelby
Steve Shelby’s Metal Blog - Metalsmithing and Related Topics
Hammer-formed one-piece brass bird perched on solid brass rod, 4 in. tall.