This fun project came my way from the Northwest. It is perhaps my most long-distance commission to date.
A corporate wordsmith in Portland, Oregon, wanted complimentary "his" and "hers" western-style buckles for himself and his fiance. For her, a running horse. For him, an elk.
Several buckle shapes were considered. An oval shape was ultimately chosen, given its western connotation. After cutting each buckle blank from 16-gauge sheet steel with my Beverly shear, I 'dished' each blank with a slight curve for depth and interest (his, concave; hers,convex). The "her" buckle is more diminutive in size than "his".
'Running Horse' buckle:
A running horse was the original concept for this belt buckle. Depicting an entire horse on the buckle might have been too much for such a small 'canvas'. I suggested the head of a horse running with its mane blowing in the wind. I sent a sketch to the client, he approved, and I was off to the races...
Hammered sheet was used for the horse's body. I used welding rods to create the blowing mane. I like how the horse's nose and mane extend slightly beyond the blank's confines (see pics, above).
I e-mailed pictures to the client of his fiance's completed 'Running Horse' buckle. I asked if he wanted to see a sketch for his buckle, or did he want to be surprised? He opted for a surprise. I don't take such trust lightly, and I'm honored when a client allows me artistic design freedom and places such confidence in me.
'Defiant, Melancholy Elk' buckle:
The elk is this client's totemic animal, citing a 'defiant, melancholy elk' as the spirit to capture. Again, I opted to show just the head of the animal with the elk's majestic antlers being the focal point. I'm pleased with how the elk's upturned head and mouth carry the desired emotion for this piece.
The antler points were each forged separately, then oxy-fueled together. The antlers attach at various points and overlap, providing visual interest. Welding rods were used for the elk's head and eye.
I don't know if my client's fiance knew about this project. Perhaps this gift was a complete surprise. I do know, however, that the client was pleased with both buckles. He recently wore his elk buckle one evening to a live music show, reporting "It suited my mojo spirit."
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