Back in the day, everything was made by hand; today, not so much. Sometimes that’s not such a bad thing as we can more easily populate our homes with comfortable things and live happier and more productive lives. The downside, of course, is materialism, clutter and overflowing landfills. Kudos not only to those who take a more thoughtful path in life to avoid that downside, but also to those who make that path easier to follow.
One of the people making this path easier is Daniel Hopper, a modern blacksmith to whom I was recently introduced. With nary a horseshoe in sight, his workshop melds traditional metalworking with modern tools and sensibilities. Personally, I’m no stranger to blacksmithing having dabbled in it as far back as high school. Even a few years ago, I took a local refresher course and hammered out a modest design. But when someone chooses to devote their career to something steeped in tradition, I always feel a bit of envy. Professions such as butchers, bakers, furniture makers, weavers, painters and blacksmiths keep these skills alive and provide a vital link to the past. It takes fortitude to forge a different path outside of the 9 to 5 cubicle drudgery.
What is particularly interesting about Daniel’s work is that there is a complicated crossover between architectural detailing, functional lighting and furniture as well as the purely decorative. It’s an engaging mixture of creativity and practicality from small scale to gigantic. As he describes his work:
‘My work can be viewed as functional art. I have found no reason to separate architecture from sculpture, furniture from art, the visual from the tactile. I seek to create interactive, functional, structurally sound architectural pieces that people feel compelled to touch, objects which are both whimsical and ominous at once. The works I have produced have ranged in scale from small objects to substantial architectural installations throughout the California Bay Area.’
The beauty of his work is that there is honesty to the look and warmth in its texture that is nonexistent in many mass produced goods. These qualities transcend any particular style, allowing hand forged metals in almost any interior. And although the cost for such individual work might stretch your budget, the reward is highly functional art with longevity and value.
As I’ve said before in my ‘Craftsmanship is Alive’ post, perhaps it is time that you do consider including something in your home that’s handmade or even commissioning an idea that’s been mulling in your head. If you need a bit of inspiration, here are some hints at Daniel’s work (visit his website for more details www.danielhopper.com):