‘A coppersmith of skill and maturity’

December 1, 1996 § Leave a comment

Hand-hammered four-socket copper and mica lamp by Audel Davis

By ROGER MOSS

Copper, like oak, clay and linen, is an ideal medium for the expression of Arts & Crafts principles. It is a humble material, easily worked by hand and requiring no industrial technology. Its natural color is wonderfully rich, and it lends itself to an array of subtle patinas. Thus it is not surprising that copper became the material of choice among the early 20th century American Arts & Crafts metalworkers. Metalsmiths such as Marie Zimmermann of New York, Karl E. Kipp of East Aurora, Forest Emerson Mann of Grand Rapids, Douglas Donaldson of Los Angeles and — most sublimely — Dirk van Erp of San Francisco, set high standards for work in copper in the Arts & Crafts tradition.

The revival of interest in the Arts & Crafts movement of the last two decades has not been limited to collectors and antique dealers, but has encompassed contemporary craftspeople as well. Among the handful of craftsmen who work in copper, Audel Davis is a new name. Although he has been studying the craft for some seven years now, he has offered his work to the public only since 1996. In that short time, he has started to hammer out for himself a reputation near the top of his field.

Audel Davis crafting copper and mica lamps in his Berkeley workshop.

Audel’s perfectionist nature is such that he simply will not release work that does not meet his exacting standards. His insistence on rendering his own designs, rather than merely duplicating great work from the past; his willingness to experiment with new forms; and his growing ability to work with a range of patinas all mark him as a coppersmith of considerable skill and maturity. His work shows an increasing sense of sophistication and he is developing a commitment to major forms: table lamps, large jardinieres and — this year — a 62-inch floor lamp, which is by far the largest work he has made thus far.

The two aspects of Audel Davis’s work I most admire are his high standards of craftsmanship and his ability to allow his designs, informed as they are by elements from the past, to speak their own, unique vocabulary.

Q&A WITH AUDEL DAVIS: “Honesty of form, beauty of design

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