Continuing the Arts & Crafts tradition

August 20, 2015 § Leave a comment

Photograph of Audel Davis's first lamp by Melati Citrawireja

Photograph of Audel Davis’s first lamp by Melati Citrawireja

By MELATI CITRAWIREJA
Berkeleyside

Audel Davis and his wife, Lynne, live in a home tucked down a shady street off University Avenue in Berkeley. Apart from a few pesky crows that terrorize their coi fish by day, they have created a lush and quiet sanctuary, greatly influenced by the philosophy and aesthetics of the Arts and Crafts movement — a concept that took flight and reached its peak in the 1890s as a reaction to the age of mass production. It emphasized traditional craftsmanship as a way to put integrity and skill back into the design and manufacturing process.

Davis is a Bay Area coppersmith, widely known for his Arts and Crafts style lamps that have his own added twist.

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Audel Davis honored at Grove Park

March 1, 2014 § Leave a comment

Audel Davis Coppersmith

A catalog of Audel Davis’s work accompanied the Grove Park exhibit

AUDEL DAVIS is the first living crafter to be honored with an exhibit in the Great Hall of the Grove Park Inn. The exhibit [from February 21 to 23, 2014] is also the first one-person showing of his work in a non-commercial setting. It is entirely fitting that Audel Davis be honored in this way, and in this place. He has a long affiliation with the Grove Park Inn Arts and Crafts Conference, having attended all but three of the 26 conferences. His deep commitment to the ideals of the movement, too, both aesthetically and philosophically, make this exhibit a supremely natural manifestation of the conference’s mission to educate and inspire those who revere the Arts and Crafts movement and its contemporary renaissance.

Those who know Audel personally will understand how his self-effacing nature initially rebelled against the idea of an exhibit honoring his work. A modest man of unfailing good humor and grace, Audel is not comfortable in the spotlight. But if you are also familiar with his work, which this exhibit seeks to elucidate, you will know that Audel Davis is completely deserving of the attention this exhibit brings to him.

Some years ago I was the very happy recipient of a pair of Audel’s candlesticks. They have become like members of our family, such is the warm and personal character that they express over years of closeness and familiarity, not unlike the people who are dear to me. The attributes of family and warmth are naturally a part of Audel’s work, and as you contemplate the objects in this exhibit you may also sense the traits that make his way of working copper to be so very much more than merely raised, planished, hammered and patinated sheets of metal.

— TED BOSLEY, Director
The Gamble House
Pasadena, California

Foreword to Audel Davis Coppersmith
Copyright 2014 by Roger Moss

Read more: “A coppersmith of skill and maturity

‘One of America’s great craftsmen’

January 15, 2014 § Leave a comment

Audel Davis copperwork | Photograph by Russell Abraham

Audel Davis copperwork | Photograph by Russell Abraham

TUCKED AWAY on a quiet residential street in Berkeley, California, is the home and studio of Audel Davis, one of America’s great craftsmen. Think Maloof, Stocksdale, Nakashima — only Davis is a coppersmith and his genre is Arts and Crafts. When one hears the phrase, images of Charles Rennie Mackintosh and Greene and Greene immediately come to mine, as well they should.

Read more: “A journey to the world of Arts & Crafts

‘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

Honesty of form, beauty of design

December 1, 1996 § Leave a comment

By ROGER MOSS

Audel Davis is one of a small group of coppersmiths — probably fewer than a dozen nationwide — who lovingly follow the early 20th century Arts & Crafts movement’s tenets: utility, craftsmanship, respect for materials, appreciation of proportion, attention to detail, honesty of form and beauty of design.

Audel has a long history of craftwork, dating back to his childhood. “It’s something I’ve always done,” he says. “I can’t remember when I wasn’t working with my hands on some project.”

Born and raised in northern Santa Barbara County into a family that traces its California roots back to the Gold Rush, he learned basic construction skills from his father, a building contractor. While still in junior high school, he completed the construction of a small building in the back yard of his family’s home in Santa Maria to house his model railroad.

This ability to work with his hands was of value when Audel and his wife, Lynne, bought a turn-of-the-century house on a deep lot in Berkeley. They set out to repair and expand the house for themselves and their four children. Audel completely transformed the house, working with tile and stained glass as well as the basic carpentry, masonry and cabinetwork required for a growing family home.

It was while he was working on his home that he became interested in copper. His first work was for his home and family. What follows is a discussion with Audel about his interest in hand-hammered copper.
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