A little over two years ago I dug into Crafthaus (a web based community for art/crafters…it’s amazing) in an almost desperate search to find metalsmiths/jewelers in the Los Angeles area, which at the time was my new home. I was longing to find my arts community in the vast, widespread city of angels. Through my cyber trolling one person really caught my eye, maybe it couldn’t be helped with the bright flash of his work or his Notorious status but I knew I had found something….someone and I had to reach out. But as Serendipity worked her ways, we won’t connect in LA. It would at the Minneapolis SNAG Conference (metalsmithing conference) that I would finally meet Michael Dale Bernard.
MDB and I instantly hit it off. How could you not, he’s laid back, interested in what others are doing and super talented. The sad part (for me) was that MDB moved to Milwaukee to take an adjunct teaching position at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee right as I landed in sunny California. We just missed each other. So when I was putting Case of the Nomads together I knew I had to visit him.
I arrived in Milwaukee on the perfect Midwestern late summer, early fall day. I thought I'd be rolling into a small town but nope Milwaukee is a City!! I found my way to the University then sat in on MDB’s casting class. As I watched him teach there was this ease in the room, he has such flow with his chill vibes, vast knowledge and I found myself in a bit of ahhh with his ability to never skip a beat. This guy can teach!! And he's a hard act to follow, I gave a lecture or artist talk to his students about my travels. It was a treat and honor to hang with them all. What a killer group of future master metalsmiths!!!
fter class there was one thing I absolutely wanted to do while hanging with MDB. The ArtCycle. “We are metalsmiths who decided to combine bicycles and getting art out of the studio. ArtCylce is a mobile platform for community education in craft.” Rachel Davis and MDB are the masterminds behind this rad ass community machine. Hot DAMN!!!
I was honored and terrified when MDB let me ride the ArtCycle. It weighs about 250 lbs. so I had to put my big girl panties on to dominant this beast, especially when going downhill. After peddling along we decided to set up shop at the waterfront.
I’m collecting “RoadMentos” aka little charms from stops while I’m traveling. You can image my giddiness when I found out that while out on the ArtCycle MDB helps others make charm necklaces. That’s what we were about to do. Serendipity doing her thing again!!
MDB carries with him on the ArtCycle pre-textured copper/brass pendent backs with soldered bails (small tubing for the chain of the necklace to slip through) on the top. He also has textured sheet metal which he saws out peoples initials and then let's them riveted the pieces together with brass nails. It’s simple yet brilliant.
As MDB made my pendent (for my collection) curious eyes appeared in wonder at us while they ventured down the water front path. Even though there was interest in our presence it wasn’t until an inquisitive biker, who got up the courage by circling us a few times, were we able to hook someone. MDB gave his usual flowing beat and asked if Valentino, the biker, wanted to make something. Without hesitation he said yes. For the next half hour we all hung out, making metalwork. That’s all it took, community was gathered, education was passed and lives were touched, especially mine!!!
This is a part of community, art and bikes that I fully take with me and always will. MDB is a special gift with mad skills to teach, reach others and create. I’m grateful for his insight, friendship and for letting me in to see the notorious world he has created. Thank You Michael.
This is a necklace that MDB and I collaborated on for Co:Operation Garnish which is a grand touring exhibition created by Crafthaus Editor Brigitte Martin and artist Rachel Timmins with the intent to bring the metalsmithing family together. Well played ladies!!! "Motions Force" necklace will be on exhibit at Brooklyn Metal Works Feb 5th-Mar 4th 2016.