PBS Craft Series Taps Metal Masters
By Wayne Countryman
September 30, 2013
Having already focused on a wide range of other craft mediums, the Peabody award-winning documentary series “Craft in America” opens its fifth season with an exploration of metalsmiths Chloe Darke, Tom Pullin and Albert Paley in “Forge,” premiering on PBS stations Oct. 25.
Forging is an ancient method in which metal is heated and reheated, strengthened and hammered into sinuous, extravagant curves. Through this mysterious process, contemporary artists express their creativity and skill.
The craft of silversmithing in New England existed even before America’s most patriotic silversmith Paul Revere, made his famous ride. Old Newbury Crafters in Amesbury, Mass., was one of best at the time. Fourteen generations later, it is now in the capable hands of a young metal artist, Chloe Darke. She leads the company in hand-forging extraordinary objects, and declares “there is a rebirth of craft for people in my generation who are interested in traditional ways of making things.”
Iraq war veteran Tom Pullin forged his life in the military, then used a G.I. Bill to pursue training at the Corcoran College of Art + Design in Washington, D.C. For Pullin, metal work is a healing path to exorcizing the chaotic, sometimes horrifying experiences of war. The episode shows Pullin forging and casting a metal skull, a haunting reminder of a young Iraqi girl whose grave was disturbed during a search for a downed Navy man.
“Forge” also visits with master sculptor Albert Paley as he prepares the most ambitious project of his 50-year career: “Paley on Park Avenue,” 13 monumental sculptures now on display in New York City through Nov. 8. Amid flying sparks and red-hot steel, viewers witness Paley’s mastery of all the processes necessary to turn sheets of metal into seemingly weightless ribbons undulating 20 feet above the ground. “I have a very aggressive, assertive personality,” says Paley, “and it’s made manifest through the materials. It is not shy, timid work.”