I began my career as a blacksmith after completing my Bachelors degree in Art at Texas State University. After taking a good deal of coursework in the Metals and Sculpture Departments I gained much interest in the field of metal work. The facilities at Texas State are equipped with a foundry for lost wax casting and sand casting of bronze and aluminum in addition to the Metals facilities which also came with centrifugal casting capabilities for precious metals. Between metal casting and fabricating armature for sculptural pieces, my taste for metal was growing rapidly. After graduating I stumbled upon a custom ornamental iron shop called Mind over Metal and apprenticed under a gentleman by the name of Richard Schultz. I worked at Mind over Metal for over four years creating gates, hand railing, architectural hardware, furniture, and a slew of other things that came across our plate. On weekends I found another ornamental iron shop called San Gabriel Forge, headed by a Mr. David Haley. At that point I was convinced that metalwork was the direction I was going and I was anxious to learn as many different techniques as possible. Finishing, joinery, attention to detail, and mere equipment use varied significantly between the two shops and I was more than happy to learn both approaches to the art. After being appointed foreman at Mind over Metal I decided to leave San Gabriel Forge. Within a year or so Richard decided to move his shop to some land outside of town and I wasn’t able make the drive. In attempt to stay within the realm of metalwork, I took a job in the finish shop at S.T.I. International, a custom and competition pistol manufacturer. S.T.I. allowed me to learn a far different approach to metalwork. The romance that is involved in hand forging a piece of sculpture is what draws me to the trade and at S.T.I. I found that the same romance is resonated in the art of the gunsmith. The meticulous polishing of the different facets in a 1911 handgun goes hand in
hand with the exquisite process of hammering and planishing a finished piece of art. I left the gun shop in 2009 when I was offered the opportunity to work in the Welding Technology Department at Austin Community College. I was absolutely amazed by the facilities and more so by the faculty and staff. I am currently developing Art Metals and Metalsmithing classes/workshops to offer over the summer as well as working on the upbringing of my shop, Rusty Belly Forgeworks.
My foundation is mainly in ornamental and architectural ironwork and I consider myself to be part traditional and part modern in my execution and approach as a blacksmith. I enjoy the texture and details that can be created in a piece as well as the presence of process.
The romance that is involved in hand forging a piece of sculpture is what draws me to the trade as well as the intricate polishing of the different facets and the exquisite process of hammering and plannishing a finished piece of art. There is an inherent intimacy involved in creating art and sculpture. Everything you have goes into your work. Everything! We lose sleep, work until our hands bleed and our body aches, every dimes goes into the materials, we get covered in paint and oil and grit, and we sit at home striving to make more, the next thing that will possibly give the audience some sort of perspective into our lives and what is dear to us. I attempt to utilize form, texture, color and material characteristics to visually stimulate the audience. I find that the qualities of the different metals and materials I work with, as a blacksmith and as an artist are essential to the conceptual appeal of each piece. The antiquity of bronze sculpture, the texture of wrought iron, the malleable yet solid qualities of steel, the juxtaposition of found objects, and the use of color and figurative portrayals are all aspects of my work that enable each piece to speak to the viewer; to express the social and personal struggles I have been through in a way that not only makes light of some difficult issues but also allows the viewer to relate to the artist and the work on a personal level.