Ancient Craft Produces Modern Masterpieces

By Eric Olson

March 25, 2014 Updated Mar 25, 2014 at 10:37 AM EDT

DELPHOS, Ohio (21Alive)--Michael Bendele is a blacksmith but what he forges bears little resemblance to work you expect from a blacksmith. His pieces are sublime works of art, often borrowing forms found in nature that bend and sway and twist with a life of their own.

“I tend toward expressing motion or movement I should say as much or maybe more than natural forms’” he explains.

From a career that spans forty years this Delphos, Ohio artist enjoys a national reputation for creating exquisite pieces from iron and steel, from small decorative objects to massive chandeliers, hanging lamps…even these immense steel doors for a local church, each standing ten feet high. Bendele’s furniture pieces are intricate, bound together with steel that looks like cord wrapped by hand.

“On one hand it’s very simple but on another hand the simplicity is very deceptive,” he says, “and the subtleties of it do take a long time to master.”

Michael Bendele’s work is very much in demand; he always has commissions lined up many months, even years in advance. So he has the luxury of exploring the infinite possibilities of the metals he works with…objects that are a delight to see and touch and use. Something admirers of his work will be able to experience many decades after the artist is gone.

“The greatest thing or the neatest thing would be if there’s still something I made that for down the road that would sort of brighten someone’s day or make somebody’s day a little bit better,” he says. “That would be pretty neat.”

Eric Olson reporting out in 21 Country.

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