South Whitley Sculptor Puts the Metal to the Metal

By Eric Olson

February 9, 2011 Updated Feb 9, 2011 at 4:22 PM EDT

SOUTH WHITLEY, Indiana (Indiana's NewsCenter)--South Whitley artist Steve Shelby calls it puzzle solving…most of us would call the metal sculptures he creates graceful, inspiring…gorgeous. A lifelong interest in art took Steve first to architecture school and then fine arts studies at Ball State. It was a jewelry class at college that turned him on to metal work. His hammered copper, brass and silver pieces are often of shapes found in nature, and often animal forms. They are sleek and wonderful to look at and touch. You can understand his puzzle analogy, too. This copper piece he’s working on will be a tyrannosaurus teapot, he calls it. Steve makes a drawing of the piece, then a clay model. Then makes a rubber cast of the model and flattens it out so he knows what shapes to cut the metal. It’s then a matter of coaxing the piece into shape with hammer and anvil, like a complex metal puzzle. The results can take your breath away. Steve says he’s working toward kinetic sculpture, pieces made of multiple parts that move. Whatever his next step it’s certain to inspire, just as these pieces will still please the eye one hundred years from now.

“What would be really cool if they would say ‘That’s a Steve Shelby’,” he says. “That’s my ego saying that. It’s sort of an immortality trip I guess and I guess everybody sort of wants that in a way.”

Many may want it but few achieve it, as one gifted metal shaper out in ‘your county’ most certainly has. This is Eric Olson reporting.

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