Metal Sculptor Mixes Old Traditions with New Ideas

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    A Concho Valley artist is mixing old traditions with new ideas to create contemporary art pieces.
    Hammers pounding and power tools cutting. Those are the sounds that can be heard within the rugged terrain of Schleicher County. In a workshop about 6 miles north of Eldorado.
    Kevin Stanford creates contemporary pieces with the help of traditional skills. He took his first blacksmithing class in 1999 and soon started a fence building business. His art was not a priority.
    “Didn’t have a lot of time. It was a hobby then,” says Stanford.
    Eventually, he perfected techniques and fostered his ideas.  
    “I had some ideas that weren’t necessarily confined to the blacksmithing craft,” says Stanford. 
    Today, he works full time on his art. Stanford uses techniques, thousands of years old, to manipulate pieces of metal in pieces of art.
    He starts by heating the metal.
    “1700 degrees,” he  says.
    Hot enough to burn it. but not enough to melt.
    Then he starts forging the piece of iron.
    “Apply it to the power hammer,” says Stanford.
    Going back and forth, like a dance he says, between the heat and the pounding.
    “This will be for cooling the handle off,” says Stanford.
    Sometimes it takes him hours to create one piece, sometimes days.
    “Forging and working with steel sort of becomes part of you,” says Stanford.
    His inspiration comes from artists who grew up in the early 1900’s.
    “Some of what they did was really ground breaking at the time and I get a lot of  inspiration from those guys,” says Stanford,
    Today he is helping others learn these traditional techniques.
    “Once you’ve heated up a piece of steel and manipulated it, for some people, it just grabs a hold of you,” says Stanford.
    Stanford has some of his pieces displayed at San Angelo’s Kendall Art Gallery. They’ll be displayed for a couple more weeks.

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