Greg Wilbur

metal | portland, oregon

The “feel” for working metal was a natural for me. My first love was baseball and especially throwing. Hammering is all about throwing – and I'm good at it.

My art involves hammering metal in a controlled manner. The art form is called raising. In raising, metal is hammered into a sculptural form. If you have made a simple pinch pot from clay with your thumb and fingers, you have done what I do. The main differences are that I "pinch" the metal with a special silversmith hammer on an anvil-like tool called a stake, and my work also takes a lot longer to form. My pieces start as single pieces of flat, nonferrous – copper, bronze, or silver sheet metal, using no solder or welded seams.

As I strike the metal, I compress, crush, stretch, and create tension between the millions of crystals that the metal sheet is made up of. These crystals slide on each other but hold together because of varying tensile strengths. This tensile strength is limited and if not relieved will cause a rip, crack or tear.

A wonderful property of metal is that this tension can be relieved by a process called annealing. Annealing is the heating of metal to a point (this point varies, but about 1,000 °F) where this tension is relieved. What really happens is that the crystals expand slightly with the heat and push themselves apart; thus, the relief of tension.

I alternately heat, cool and hammer; heat, cool and hammer until the desired form is obtained. Some pieces take only an hour or so, others take days or even weeks. I don't count the hammer blows, but I once read that a 6" x 6" x 6" open bowl takes 50,000 blows to complete. I sometimes spend over a month to complete especially large, necked in vessel forms. Maybe a million blows…

gallery feature

Around the Center: Dale Larson, William Moore, Greg WIlbur
June 2 – July 2, 2011
First Wednesday Artist Reception: June 1, 6–8pm


Work by Greg Wilbur is available in The Gallery. Contact the Gallery staff at 1.877.546.2655 or by email.
Photo: Work by Greg Wilbur