This year’s award was created by Joe Brown from Readyville, TN and is an Iris, the Tennessee state flower. Joe bends steel to fashion delicate curling vines and majestic leaves that arch skyward through heating and hand-forging steel components. The actual petals of the Iris are crafted through combining aged repurposed verdigris copper from the Tennessee Governor’s Residence renovation in 2003 and young shiny-as-a-penny copper. The relationship between the aged and new coppers enhance the texture and distinction given to each unique petal.
The technique of heating metal and forming it into works of art was the intriguing factor that led Joe to become a blacksmith. For over twenty years, he has been inspired by nature, which is reflected in much of his work.
The challenge of designing and creating a piece to meet a specific need is Joe’s motivation for continuing this craft. Creating ironwork that gives others enjoyment while serving a purpose is his most satisfying work. Joe uses the traditional method of heating metal in a forge and forming the metal with hammer and anvil. This method has a long history of providing ironwork from its most simplistic form to the most ornate. As Joe continues in the tradition, he seeks to establish his unique designs to be both visually pleasing and functional.