adjective: handmade; adjective: hand-made
made by hand, not by machine, and typically therefore of superior quality.
Handmade goods have always fascinated me. Not necessarily because of the time and effort it takes to create them, but because of the creative and determined mind required to spark and follow through with an idea. My ongoing mission to document makers of the handmade recently led me to Ironton Studios in a fledgling neighborhood near the stockyards in Denver, CO. I found Dan Brandemuehl at Ironton working on a white marble piece destined for an auction at Design After Dark, a fundraiser for the Denver Art Museum's department of Architecture, Design and Graphic Arts. Most of Dan’s work is personal and noncommissioned, therefore qualifying as what I think of as “true” art. Dan works with stone because he loves it. When I asked if he’s ever sculpted with any other medium, he answered with a quick “No.” He explained that he is more interested in sculpting via a subtractive method than an additive method and has always had an affinity for stone. Dan has a talent for seeing and feeling the stone and has an innate vision for what he wants to achieve. With these refined senses, the stone is gradually molded into the shape he envisions. He consistently feels the changing contours, and takes his time to get each plane just right. He pays close attention to the veins in the stone to ensure he doesn’t push the form to the point of cracking. Though I spent just a short time with Dan, I became acutely aware that he has a unique passion for art and the handmade. He has made it his life. He comes to his studio at Ironton in the evenings and on the weekends because he wants to. No one is pressuring him. He does it because he enjoys it. Now that is what I call handmade.