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(618) 893-2216

The Velvet Hammer Ltd.
decorative blacksmithing   

Roberta Elliott
1210 Union Springs Road, Cobden, IL 62920-3027
Established in 1978
618-893-2216 by appointment
Artist Statement
 What do you get when you cross a tennis player with an artist? A blacksmith. Throw in a lifetime gardener and that blacksmith works in an organic style with a nature theme. The first time I struck iron, I was smitten. There is something wonderfully indescribable about the energy exchange that takes place while blacksmithing. The heat from the fire and the force of the hammer’s blow feed and energize me.

My primary material is mild steel. I particularly enjoy using pipe. This hollow material gives an impression of mass without the actual weight and provides an additional surface (the interior) with its own potential to be worked. It is a form that requires a gentle and patient hammer blow, so it doesn’t collapse. Currently, I use only recycled pipe; the other ends are running around in John Deere tractors.

The versatility of mild steel allows it to take the bold shapes usually associated with ironwork, as well as the soft, feminine lines for which I strive. My work often contains botanical references, and I create images that evoke continuing growth. Each heat of the metal offers an opportunity to explore. The results can be unexpected, opening up an entirely new path leading to the spontaneity evident in many of my creations.

Then there is the fascination of forge welding. I am amazed every time I successfully perform this weld, in which two or more pieces are heated to 2600 degrees, carefully introduced to each other and firmly hammered into a single unit. Vigilance and focus are required; uncertainty and excitement are part of the process. I try to incorporate at least one forge weld in every piece I design. I use this process to introduce texture and images to the surface of my work.

In making my spoons, I push pipe in many directions. I forge out its center hole, split and taper one end and flatten and drift a ring on the other end. For the “bowl” I forge weld expanded steel or butterflies together or introduce playful human figures.

My trees incorporate steel shavings and wires to grow the canopy. Successive layers are forge welded onto thin sheet, often building up a ¼” layer. Some chunks come off in the cleaning process, opening up the canopy in various areas. I use an abrasive brass technique, vegetable oil and the natural tempering colors for the patina.

 Last update: March 16, 2014

DEMONSTRATIONS FOR 2014

I will be demonstrating at the ABANA conference in Harrington, DE Aug. 13-15

TEACHING POSITIONS FOR 2014 

John C. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, NC March 9-15 

Appalachian Center for Craft in Smithville, TN June20-22 

 

ART SHOWS FOR 2014

4 Bridges Art Festival
Chattanooga, TN
April  11-13

Magic City Arts Festival
Birmingham, AL
April 25-27

Art Fair at Laumeier
St. Louis, MO
May 9-11 

Broad Ripple Art Fair
Indianapolis, IN
May 17-18 

Kalamazoo Art Fair
Kalamazoo, MI
June 6-7

Talbot Street Art Fair
Indianapolis, IN
June 14-15 

Krasl Art Fair
St. Joseph, MI
July 12-13 

Geneva Art Fair
Geneva, IL
July 26-27

River Arts Fest
Memphis, TN
Oct. 25-26 

SIU Craft Show
Carbondale, IL
Dec. 4-6

 



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Awards

2013
Best of Show
Spring Bloom
Bloomington, IL 

Best of Metal
Krasl Art Fair
St. Joseph, MI 

President's Award
Bluff Park Art Assn. Art Show
Birmingham, AL 

2012
Best of Sculpture
Old Capitol Art Fair
Springfield, IL 

Best of FIne Craft
Midwest Salute to the Arts
Fairview Heights, IL

Best of Metal
Deerpath Art Fair on the Square
Lake Forest, IL 

2011
Best of Sculpture
Old Capitol Art Fair
Springfield, IL

Best of Sculpture
Art and Air
St. Louis, MO

Award of Excellence
Geneva Art Fair
Geneva, IL 

2009
Best of Metal
Virginia Highlands Spring Festival
Atlanta, GA

Juror's Award
Materials Hard and Soft, Greater Denton Arts Council
Denton, TX

Best of Illinois
Cedarhurst Craft Fair
Mt. Vernon, IL

Best of Sculpture
Art in the Park
Highland, IL

2008
Best of Sculpture
Art in the Park
Highland, IL

2007
Best of Sculpture
Old Capitol Art Fair
Springfield, IL

Best of Sculpture
Art & Air
St. Louis MO 

Best of Sculpture
Art in the Park
Highland, IL

2006
Best of Sculpture
Old Capitol Art Fair
Springfield, IL

Best of Sculpture
Art & Air
St. Louis, MO

Best of Accessories
Fine Furnishing Show
Milwaukee, WI

Third Place
St. James Court Art Show
Louisville, KY

Merit Award
James R. Thompson
Award of Excellence

2005
Best of Sculpture
Old Capitol Art Fair
Springfield, IL

2004
Best Portfolio
Old Capitol Art Fair,
Springfield, IL

2003
Best of Fine Crafts
Salute to the Masters
Fairview Heights, IL

Best of Show
Old Capitol Art Fair
Springfield, IL

Best of Metal
Krasl Art Show
St. Joseph, MI

2001
Best of Metal
Old Capitol Art Fair
Springfield, IL

2000
Second Place
Illinois State Fair Professional Art Exhibition
Springfield, IL

1999
Third Annual James R. Thompson Award for Excellence in Crafts

1998
Award of Excellence Midwest Salute to the Masters
Fairview Heights, IL

1991
Best of Show
Cedarhurst Crafts Fair
Mt. Vernon, IL

1988
1st & 2nd Place
Illinois State Fair Professional Art Exhibition
Springfield, IL

Galleries where my work can be seen

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