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If These Walls Could Talk

Something Extrordinary

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07/01/2011 - I look forward each year to Casper's Nic Fest. This gathering of artists, musicians, and great food is the perfect scene for whiling away a summer day. This year's festival was no disappointment. It was full of life and creativity.

I never escape the fest without purchasing something to enhance my home. It's the place to find unusual touches for home decorating. Wall art in all its forms is frequently used to define a room's design and set the decorating color scheme. As a photographer, I find photographic wall art the most compelling. I pour over the displays and usually come away with something. A misty Ireland scene by John Naquin purchased a few years ago is one of my all-time favorites.

The most inspirational finds however, are often the smaller things. These are the home accessories that when one first enters a room may go unnoticed. Yet these items give great pleasure in their daily use. Morning coffee from a hand-made pottery mug, a salad served with a carved wooden spoon, or a candle lit in the evening and seen shining through an art-glass candle holder, all give a home-dweller that sense of living in a place of beauty and grace.

At this year's Nic Fest I discovered something truly extraordinary. The forged steel art of blacksmith Scott Roberts is exquisite in its roughhewn detail. Scott attended a blacksmithing school in Buffalo, and has been developing his art for the last three and a half years. He showed me hooks as an example as he explained how his work has evolved. The earlier hook design he calls a shepherd's crook, the latter one a fishtail scroll. The hooks are both beautiful.

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Scott creates purely decorative sculptural pieces like the ancient-appearing spiked mace that lay like a threatening porcupine on the table. He also makes homey items of household hardware. Cabinet knobs, hooks and even forged nails are some of the smaller items. Towel bars and coat racks the larger ones . His heavy fireplace pokers looked like they had leapt out of a fairytale.

I was the most intrigued by his kitchen utensils. I purchased a spatula that charmed me with both its functional construction and its whimsical design. The spatula, made from the mild steel he works with, has a sharpened edge. It is firmly attached to the handle with a hammered head rivet. The handle is formed as a twisted vine with leaves. The graceful design looked as though it had been easily hand molded . It would be fascinating to see exactly how that steel is formed into the graceful shapes.

When I heard that Scott does custom work, my mind raced with the possibilities. I can picture stair railings, structural braces and ties for exposed beam construction, archways...

Scott Roberts can be reached at (307)684-2272. See his iron Arts Forge work at www.ironartsforge.com

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