With a fiery torch and the swing of his hammer, Don Francis’s cool metal sculptures get born.
Each come with a 500-year warranty, the North Delta artist jokes.
“A thousand years, it’s still going to be intact,” he declares, rubbing one of his favourite steel heads. “Fire, whatever he goes through.”
Francis creates with an acetylene torch and hammer. “I’ve got a piece of railroad that I use as an anvil, and I use a four-pound hammer, and every strike I make I curve a little bit. Bang, bang.”
He retired as a welder four years ago, but has been metal sculpting for about 15. “I enjoy them both. Welding is kind of artistic in itself.”
His passion for his art keeps him a young 65 years old.
‘The way to motivate yourself is to start doing a little bit, and then the motivation will come,” he says. “At the end of the day you feel better when you achieve something, and you’re moving your project forward.”
Don Francis’s amazing metal sculptures
“I don’t stop for breaks — when I get going, I just keep going, going all day, until I’ve had enough and my creative powers are drained for the day. If you work and you’re too tired, you make mistakes. And then when you make a mistake with metal, it’s hard to reverse it.”
Eagles, herons, life-sized steel men, ram heads, people heads, salmon and other metal wonders fill his home. He’s a self-taught artist and all his work is hand-forged and one-of-a-kind.
Not everyone has a larger-than-life steel eagle in their kitchen, but Francis does, and one in his living room as well. Some of his works are made of recycled steel, with interesting back stories. The kitchen eagle’s perch, for example, is made from the anchor of an old, decommissioned Russian vessel.
He says working with metal is a hobby, calling and obsession.
“It’s a bit of everything. It’s definitely a bit of an obsession,” he tells the Now-Leader. “You’re challenged by the great artists of the world, you know, so how can you elevate yourself to that level of artwork, that’s the challenge. Hopefully before it’s all over I’ll be recognized as a decent artist, good artist.”
Francis said he’s open to doing commissioned work, and can be reached at email@example.com
“It’d be nice to get in some galleries,” he adds. “I work alone, so it would be nice to have some people into the marketing field that could come along and work alongside me, and help me maybe to promote my work, that would be ideal. Because I’m overwhelmed with just doing the work. My job right now is to become a better artist, every day, how can I improve, how can I get better.”
Below are photos of some of his creations, which he submitted for this story. His work can also be found on his DonFrancisArtist Facebook page and at francisgallery.wordpress.com
Men and eagles