Valley  Forged


Valley Forged   (2011)

A Metal Sculpture by Kathy Cunningham

Welded Steel   33" x 46" x 10"

My great, great, great grandfather, George Washington Patterson, Sr., was a skilled and accomplished blacksmith.  This piece is in his honor.  Techniques incorporated when making this piece include forging (blacksmithing), oxyacetylene-welding and cutting, tig-welding, grinding, and polishing. 

As a country, the USA was “forged” on a metaphorical level.  While steel is thought of as rigid and unbending, it is actually very malleable when heated and manipulated by hammering and forming.  Not only was blacksmithing an integral part of life for pioneers in this country, it continues to this day.  We still use many of the same implements and techniques, while improving and incorporating modern additions such as the use of gas and the availability of forming equipment.

Quarter inch steel square rods and flat mild steel sheets were used to create this piece.  The square rods were formed first, using oxyacetylene-welding to get the steel red hot, and then bending them into the desired shapes.  Sheets of steel were then pierced, using a cutting torch for a lacy look, and then ground down with an angle grinder on one side.  As the sections of the sheets were folded over, they also showed the other side, which is very textured and was left without grinding.  The sheets were forged using fire and hammers to create the different contours.  The outer form of each letter had steel rods turned into molten steel and applied to the surface giving a thick texture.  The three sections were then sandblasted.  The “lacy cut” portion of the steel was ground down to a high sheen with the angle grinder.  The rest was left as without further work for contrast.

As a nation, our people have gone through the same kinds of processes.  It takes time, effort, patience, and willingness to changed things when necessary.  The ideals and goals of our nation continue to be reformed, and this process will endure as long as there is spirit in our individual and collective constitutions.


Below are closer shots of each letter,
followed by a few details, and a
photo of the artist in the studio.

usa          usa






kathy with Largesse

Kathy Cunningham with the central section of her piece

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