David Ivens —He’s Got a Hammer - theHumm November 2019

David Ivens —He’s Got a Hammer - theHumm November 2019

By Sally Hansen

Art… and Soul

That’s not correct. He has many, many specialized hammers and other metalworking tools, and he hammers in the morning and in the evening and in the afternoons. And he’s been happily doing it for over forty years. You know you’ve found your niche when what you want to do after you retire is to do more of what you’ve been working at.

David Ivens ran a restoration and fabrication company in Toronto for forty years, creating, reproducing and restoring antique light fixtures. Six years ago he met Valley artist Karen Phillips-Curran (profiled in July of 2013), and to the delight of area arts aficionados, he is now a new immigrant in Springtown along the Madawaska River in Renfrew County. At 3064 Calabogie Rd. between Burnstown and Calabogie he has built his dream metalworking and silversmithing workshop — a 1600-square-foot workspace with twelve-foot ceilings and a wall of windows facing south to take advantage of passive solar heating. Overhangs protect the building from the summer sun.

Growing up in Toronto in the ’70s, and looking for a calling, one day Ivens wandered into an antique store in Gerrard St. Village and got a job restoring brass beds. Serious asthma eliminated woodworking as an option, so he opted for metalworking classes at George Brown College. Soon his challenging questions and his voracious appetite for learning by doing led his instructors to suggest he pursue his objectives independently. Happy to follow their advice, Ivens studied under several renowned masters, including Ireland’s Brian Clark, Maine’s Michael Good, and Finnish-American master metalsmith, educator and author Heikki Seppa. Eventually he talked himself into a job at an interesting store and ended up running its fabrication shop for ten years. Later he set up his own business restoring antique lights, and sold it to his employees two years ago to immigrate to our Valley. He absolutely loves being out of the big city and enjoying our “rocks and trees and water and really friendly people.”

Those That Can — Teach!

Ivens is an award-winning silversmith and he is passionate about sharing knowledge and passing on techniques that may soon be forgotten. During the last ten years of his working career he taught Metal Forming in the Jewellery Programs of community colleges. Greg Merral, the former head of Jewellery Arts at Georgian College, recently dropped in to visit the new David Ivens Silversmithing Studio — the only facility like it in Canada. With individual workstations and ample room for students to spread out and use his vast collection of fine equipment, Ivens has designed and executed a beautiful creative space in which to teach and work.

At his website at davidivens.ca his caveat is characteristically straightforward: “A note on the workshops — First for Clarity — The workshops are master classes for serious students wanting to dedicate their time to in-depth learning of the skill presented.” He claims that in a week-long workshop, limited to six serious students, he packs in as much instruction and practice time as offered by a college course. He also brings in renowned metalsmiths like Brian Clark to instruct, and offers access to his astutely chosen personal library of reference materials.

Much more flexible than the materials he works with, Ivens loves the challenge of commissions. His interests in architecture, design, history and nature, combined with his extensive knowledge of and experience with traditional forming techniques, enable him to work with a wide variety of clients on disparate projects. Working primarily with metals in the non-ferrous group, including the precious metals of silver and gold, as well as copper and its alloys of bronze and brass, or aluminium, he has created stunning pieces ranging from a Star of David Goblet and chalices for religious organizations to modern lamps, vases, memorials and jewellery.

Design is his forte. The old-school master silversmiths he studied with taught him to respect the materials he works with, and to design pieces that both perform their functions properly and are built to last. He is intrigued by the design challenges that various pieces present — how to conceptualize the best way to build a piece with functional integrity and create an original object of artistic worth and interest. As simple examples, he notes that a pot should have a heavy base so it falls on its bottom, a ring should be reinforced, a spout should not drip, handles should not get hot, the hinge should last as long as it takes to polish through the pot, etc.

Looking at his finished products, it is hard to imagine that the gorgeous teapot or vase started as one or more flat pieces of sheet metal. Some of David’s loveliest and most intriguing pieces are created by heating different kinds of sheet metal together until they form a solid block. Next he hammers it flat until it is the thickness of one of the original sheets, removing parts to expose the various metals. Then he hammers it into a hollow form so that it will hold liquid, or joins it with other fabricated sections to make a functional vessel. Finally, he sands, polishes and patinates the piece to remove all the hammer marks until it is impossible to discern how it was made.

David Ivens’ exuberant love of his art/craft/medium/passion is more infectious than the annual flu strain, and a heck of a lot more fun and rewarding. He relishes showing people how things are done, and he loves working with other artists to help them simplify processes and solve problems. He also caters to novice metalworkers who are interested but not yet committed. Some Saturdays he hosts an Open Studio, offering assistance, instruction, and the use of an amazing collection of tools, equipment and reading material. If you are considering metalworking as a hobby or profession, or you’re just curious, you can contact him to discuss your options. The same goes for commissions — mostly he loves taking a flat sheet of metal and turning it into an amazing three-dimensional objet d’art.

Links for this article at David Ivens,

 

David Ivens —He’s Got a Hammer - theHumm November 2019

By Sally Hansen

Art… and Soul

That’s not correct. He has many, many specialized hammers and other metalworking tools, and he hammers in the morning and in the evening and in the afternoons. And he’s been happily doing it for over forty years. You know you’ve found your niche when what you want to do after you retire is to do more of what you’ve been working at.

David Ivens ran a restoration and fabrication company in Toronto for forty years, creating, reproducing and......

...more

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By — Sandy Irvin is the Artistic Director of the Folkus Concert Series

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