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History of Metal Art

History of Metal Art

Human beings have always used materials in their immediate surroundings to create works of utility and art. Tens of thousands of years ago, early artisans used minerals, shells, bones, teeth and skins in clothing and jewelry. When metal was finally extracted from ore over 9,000 years ago, it been used for weapons for hunting and utensils like cups and plates. Much later, wealthy Romans commissioned metal artisans to design elaborate chalices and wall art.

Ancient Metal Art

Once humans discovered the ores of the earth, they fashioned them into shapes and objects primarily for domestic uses. But the creative force has always been part of the human spirit and artists have always been among us, maybe for as long as man has walked upright. Early on, the objects were crafted with an elementary effort and I imagine the ancient artists were already imagining ways to add decoration.

Figurines and Fertility Goddesses

Figurines and fertility goddesses carved in stone have been dated back to 35,000BC. It didn’t take long after the discovery of metal for fertility goddesses to be fashioned out of bronze and copper. Today, some of these surviving objects are regarded as valuable art relics. Greece, Italy, and Egypt have the record of some of the most ancient metal works of art in gold, bronze, and tin.

Chinese Create Steel

Steel was created by the Chinese almost 2,000 years ago by melting together wrought iron with cast iron. Here at Metalwordsmith we use steel. It is much more affordable, obviously, than precious metals such as gold or silver. Other than the monetary value, meaningful quotations cut out of steel are often considered precious by those who purchase them or receive them as gifts. We love hearing that!

Medieval Period of Metal Works

In the Middle Ages, Europe was burgeoning with dedicated metal workers such as goldsmiths, coppersmiths, and silversmiths. Gates, heavy doors, jewelry boxes, crucifixes, and ornate scroll hinges were generally made with metals because of their durability and value. Individuals and organizations (churches, monasteries, and temples) patronized metal workers so regularly that they were forced to improve designs and craft techniques.

Spanish, Italian and French Metal Craft

The 15th century is marked by the many beautiful works carefully crafted by Spanish silversmiths. The efforts of these metal workers tilted towards the design and aesthetic value rather than simply the utilitarian characteristics of their works. The newly found beauty of metal works also influenced the works developed from other mediums such as wood and clay.

Around the time of the Spaniard influence of metal art, the Italian renaissance birthed the 'lost wax' process. Metal workers created works using molten bronze to replace a wax model in a clay mold and solidify. The accuracy of metal works increased and tiny statutes and decorative accessories were crafted through this process.

Notable metal works of this period were the clocks and ornaments made from bronze and gold. These metal works were first casted in bronze before being coated in gold. They originated from France and were praised to be art near perfection.

Metal Art in America Today

Metal works of art have continued to progress steadily. Today, metal works are crafted to be highly stylized. With the aid of 21st century technology, such as plasma torches and CNC machines, the process of production of metal works has been sped up, leading to a new era of a metal art boom in America.

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