Vancouver artist Stefanie Dueck would be the first to admit she’s bucking convention. While many sculptors prefer to work in clay or plaster, Dueck works in steel and bronze. Her favorite tools are the hammer and anvil, a result of experiments with the more traditional medium. “I did a lot of ceramics in high school. I really enjoyed the process but found it frustrating,” she says of her early attempts with three-dimensional form. “Most of the things I built would explode in the kiln.”
Title: Global Echo
Global Echo Detail
She stumbled into metalwork almost by accident while enrolled in the Kootenay School of the Arts in the remote British Columbia mountain community of Nelson. “It kind of clicked in my head. All those things that did not work in clay worked in metal,” she says.” I was drawn to the structural nature of it, a mixture of industrial aesthetic and a refinement, almost opposites.”
She left Canada for Spain immediately after graduation and apprenticed with blacksmith Sebastian Fisher, an English ex-pat living in the Andalusian town of Caseras. She learned the craft, “doing what I was told,” she says, picking up pointers and refining her creative process. Today, Dueck works out of a Vancouver warehouse which she shares with a steel fabricator, turning out distinctive yet functional flatware and equally distinctive sculpture.
Trilobite Larva Detail
“The nature of forging is that you take a chunk of metal and you actually move the metal. You’re not just cutting and pasting, welding or bending, you’re actually making a thick piece fat over here and thinner over here so it really gives you full lines. I work in lines as opposed to volume or surface design,” she says of the process. “Normally it begins with a long bar of steel or other metal and through hammering, the metal is displaced in various directions, flattened, stretched or twisted until the original dimensions are no longer apparent.”
Hammering also makes the pieces texturaly interesting. You can see it in her ladles. Also note the copper or bronze rivets, especially in her salad servers. She likes using contrasting metals. “I’m not necessarily the most technical blacksmith out there but that’s what I do, blacksmithing. That’s the basis of my practice,” she says.
Her early sculptures are light and playful, inspired by bugs and other insects and other creepy crawlies. Dueck says she’s moved away from her arthropod period to the more abstract and architectural, using photos she’s taken in local shipyards as inspiration and naming them after cargo ships she’s seen in Vancouver’s harbour. Currently works in progress, her new sculptures will be unveiled soon. In the meantime, Dueck’s always popular flatware is available through selected British Columbian craft stores and galleries.
Title: Second Skin
Second Skin Detail