Metal Petals

    By Suzanne Vanderhoef
    Delicate. It’s not usually the first word that comes to mind when you think of iron sculptures. But that’s exactly the image you get when you see the handcrafted metal roses created by Dan Crabtree and Scott Delorme at Crabtree Forge in Lebanon, Illinois.

    “When I work with metal, I like to transform it into something that’s lightweight-looking,” explains Dan. “That’s really one of the great characteristics about working with metal: it’s such a strong material, you can make light and airy shapes that are strong and structural.”

    The pair says they consider themselves blacksmiths or metalsmiths more than sculptors, but they are unquestionably artists, as well: taking sheets of flat iron and transforming them into 3-dimensional pieces of art.

    “When most people see our roses, they think they’re real at first,” says Dan. “{A lot of people think that we dip our roses in metal – that we take a live rose and dip it or something like that. That’s not the case. When we make our roses, we start with flat bars and sheets and we have to hammer and forge every detail into them.”

    The pair – friends since 5thgrade – got interested in blacksmithing because they wanted to make swords and armor and enjoyed heating up metal and changing its shape. Then, a few years ago they decided to turn their hobby into a profession and began perfecting their roses.

    “It’s something that I’ve always wanted to do, ever since I was probably 14,” says Dan. “And to have that dream become a reality, where I can wake up in the morning, come to my own shop and just create art, that’s probably the best part of my job.”