Belt buckles from Andy's collection. Some made by the artist, others collected.
Recently, I had the honor of assisting Andy Cooperman in his The Art of the Belt Buckle workshop at the Oregon College of Art and Craft. I have been watching Andy's work for years, so when I was asked if I would like to assist him, I jumped at the opportunity, and I'm so glad I did. Not only is Cooperman an incredible metalsmith, but he has overcome obstacles that not everyone would, and is an incredible teacher as well.
Jewelry by Andy Cooperman.
There's something about working with other metalsmiths who are confident, and march to the beat of their own drum, that can really strike a chord in you. I find myself inspired, more confident, and more able to realize my own talents when in that kind of company.
(A little sense of humor helps, too.)
Western-style buckles, in progress.
Finished Western-style buckle, forged from a brass marine washer.
We had a great group for this workshop. Multiple people from out of town, and with a range of skills. For those less experienced, I got to work on my teaching skills while demonstrating soldering techniques and other practices.
Forged taper, by yours truly.
One of my favorite parts of the workshop was learning to forge steel. It was challenging, but extremely gratifying working with hot metal. Being able to change and shape metal--mold it from a relatively flat format to something three-dimensional--is what drew me to metalsmithing in the first place. It's like alchemy. You learn to communicate with it.
It becomes a relationship.
Finished buckles!! Mine are the two in front.
Getting to work with such a talented metalsmith, and other artists, was such a great experience. There was so much joy in what we were doing, even through the struggles of technique and learning new processes. Additionally, through new experiences and conversations, my love of metal was reaffirmed, and I found more focus in how I want to move forward with my work, and with Thesis next year.