October Artist Interview – Metalsmith Brad Severtson

Shallow dish form based on seven ©2011 Brad Severtson copper
I’m not sure where I first met Brad online, but he’s participated in the Super Bowl Challenge, we’re connected on Facebook, and I try to follow his blog (when I can!)  I love all the in process photos he shares and you really get a sense of how much time and effort goes into each piece.  Right now he’s working on a wonderful foldformed teapot that I can’t wait to see finished.


1. How did you get started in your craft? (using your media)/2. What has been inspiring/influencing your work lately?

When I was twelve a neighbor let me play with his oxy-acetylene cutting torch. I owned my own a few weeks later. Oh My, that was fifty years ago! My high school Art teacher gave me a permanent pass to the Art Room a few years later. I got to play with another torch instead of going to study hall. I did a lot of silver casting during that time. On through college, they had cooler torches and way cool hammers, anvils and forges. I got to make stuff out of gold and silver. Through time I would become a jeweler goldsmith, diamond setter and business owner. One of my jewelry stores manufactured everything it sold. One of my jewelry businesses only did work for other jewelers.

fold formed tray ©2011 Brad Severtson copper

About seven years ago I was tired of the whole jewelry scene. I was tired of having to work smaller and lighter. I was lucky enough to discover a display of fold formed copper pieces made by students at a class taught by Charles Lewton Brain. I must confess as I looked at the samples I considered it to be a closed system. Sure I could make each one of the examples. While each sample was interesting to me I had and still have no desire to duplicate them. It wasn’t until I did a little research that I got turned on to some possibilities of the forms that could be created. Hammer meets metal, the metal copper, and the metal starts teaching me. Folds are fascinating. I remember the day I bought my first three by ten of copper. Oh I’d purchased metal before 6×6 sheets an occasional 12x 12 but this time I meant feet not inches. That first sheet became 100 copper fold formed flowers, a bunch of jewelry and a few vessels. Most of all I was smiling and having fun. I was discovering.

Star Fish Bowl ©2011 Brad Severtson

Your readers need to stop right here and understand something. Fold forming is just about the most addictive metalsmithing activity ever discovered or invented. It allows me to rapidly get forms into 3 dimensions. Exploring the technique will eat up large quantities of metal. It will cause you to have your own collection of curious things, probably copper and you will soon have folders of paper models.

I made kind of a natural combination of origami and fold forming. I create folds and hammer on them, yes. The most current influence on my work of multiple hammered folds to create a form comes from origami techniques. The similarities of folding are evident. The materials are quite different. Metal can be stretched and is much more resistant to change than paper. The metal work has a much more permanent quality about it than paper ever will.

3. Who are your favorite artists in your field?

In Process Teapot ©2011 Brad Severtson copper

The second most addictive thing an artist metalsmith can do is get on Face Book.  I have the most amazing FB friends. I do a bit of social networking. I don’t really have any favorites. What has happened is the artist-jewelers and metalsmiths have become more connected, less isolated. Communities are forming, boundaries are breaking down. There’s an excitement in the metals communities today that goes beyond having a few heroes. There are friendships down the street and continents apart. There are seasoned professionals willing to share and enthusiastic beginners willing and eager to learn. It’s a great day to be a jeweler metalsmith.

4. What is your favorite customer quote or story?

The first is the one word I’ve said to each and every customer over the years. “Enjoy.”  The second is a story called “Butterfly Farmer” that is in the archives of my blog – Hammering Out a Living.

5. What is your favorite piece of art or fine craft that you own?

There are many friends on FB, blog followers and fellow forum members I’ve come to look forward to reading. Every so often I get to actually have a face to face meeting with one of them. A couple of years ago Gordon Uyehara “Metal clay master” and I exchanged  pairs of earrings. They are personal favorites.

You can find Brad online at his blog Hammering Out a Living or on Facebook where he shares his process, sense of humor, and thoughts on pies.