I’ve always had a drive to create. I started young - first with painting, then ceramics, then wood, then glass. I’m drawn to organic mediums that have rules. Push clay too hard and it falls; push glass too far and it breaks. I like them because in those mediums lies a beauty - push just far enough and amazing things can happen. Those organic mediums tempt you to walk the line between magic and disaster, and it’s completely addictive. Metal never seemed to fit into that category to me. It seemed cold and static, but I was wrong.
While living on the Outer Banks of North Carolina I had a chance to work apprenticing under two of the most talented metalsmiths and jewelry designers - Ben & Kathryn Stewart of Silver Bonsai Gallery in Manteo. I had never worked with metal, but it sounded interesting to try something new. I jumped at the chance. And so my education began. Many days were spent under their guidance doing repetitive tasks - forging components for earrings, banging out tapers for their signature bracelets, hammering out the copper leaves that were a staple in the gallery. Try banging copper leaves all day on an anvil in North Carolina heat with a headache - that is truly an education in metalwork! It didn’t matter - even on the most trying days I loved it.
Metal was nothing like I expected. Metal is organic. It has grain and personality and will. It doesn’t simply do what you want it to - it has to be coaxed slowly and with care. Push it too far and it lets you know. But push it just far enough and beautiful things happen. I was hooked.
The winds of change blew and I moved back up North. But the muse of the metal kept calling, and so I went about the task of gathering tools and raw materials. At first I had very little of both, but it’s impressive what can be done with very little when the drive is there. Word of mouth spread and I found an audience for my work - and more tools and raw materials. Over 15 years later I’m still banging metal. And I feel lucky every time I pick up a hammer.
Columbus has a thriving art community. This has allowed both my husband and I to creatively explore beyond the traditional expressions of our media. (Learn more about Sean's work below.) Our work can be seen in exhibits around town or in our gallery space located in the Franklinton Arts District. You can also join me for a class at 400 West Rich, an artist's community in Franklinton.
Society of North American Goldsmith
Ohio Designer Craftsman Guild
Sean Sponhaltz is a certified arborist with Urban Arborists in Columbus, Ohio. Through the course of his work he finds interesting wood specimens and gives them a second life by coaxing their innate character and inner beauty to the surface.
"Perhaps what drew me to my chosen vocation as an arborist is a deep and abiding affinity for nature. With these pieces that I craft, I feel that nature does most of the work: the forces of wind and rain; the pressure imposed upon living wood by forest or urban environment . . . These are what cause the interesting forms to develop. At best I am a craftsman that helps bring these qualities out a bit more for others to enjoy."