Ben says of all his projects, the antler bowls are one of his favorite things to make. For his pieces such as the bowls, he uses heavy gauge copper sheets and traces one of his many designs onto the metal. After cutting the metal with shears, he then sands down and smooths all the rough edges. Using an ancient process known as “sinking,” Ben forms the bowl in the hollow of a tree stump, pounding the metal to take the bowl shape. He continues to form the bowl on a mushroom-shaped metal stake, a process known as planishing, and then hammers the edges and puts the maker’s mark on the bottom. After buffing and polishing to the desired finish, the final product is reminiscent of a sculpture, says Ben.
Ben also teaches metalworking classes part-time because he wants to pass on this knowledge that he feels is so rare. He wants people to know that he creates his work the same way our ancestors did. Everything that he produces is made with his two hands, no machines ever touch a piece. When you step into his studio, you go back about 100 years technologically, and if you compare his work to a machine piece, you can tell the difference in quality and appearance.
“I make things to be used and to be beautiful,” says Ben. “I like to think I am bringing beauty into people’s lives.” It’s an old idea that people have forgotten, eating out of a beautiful spoon and taking the time to make eating a special event that you can enjoy. Ben, through his beautiful art and determination to keep the craft alive, is bringing this idea back one serving spoon at a time.