From solder to art...

Published on Thu, Feb 22, 2001
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From solder to art...

by Meg Olson

After 30 years repairing televisions, Jim Block was certainly familiar with solder, but that familiarity bred inspiration rather than contempt. “I had noticed that after you reheat solder it really shines,” he said. “I wondered if you could make something that looked nice.” Twenty years later, Block has made over 2,300 things that look nice - tiny birds, bunches of cattails, jumping deer - out of nothing but solder.

Block, a Blaine artist whose work is on display at the Blaine Library through February, sells his creations at craft fairs across the northwest, with smaller pieces costing less than $20. Each is finely detailed and shines brilliantly. “I mostly model them on wildlife,” he said, explaining that he has an affinity for natural beauty and enjoys the opportunity to bring some of it inside for people.

To create the sculptures, Block melts a lump of solder and starts building a form. “As it cools I’ll draw a silhouette and then start building it up one side then the other,” he said. The more the solder is heated and reheated, as Block draws out tiny feathers and delicate leaves, the shinier and more rigid it becomes. More complicated works he creates in pieces and then assembles. “This one the antlers, the ears and the legs are separate, then it’s all soldered together,” he said pointing to a deer jumping a fence.

Block says he spends anywhere from a few hours to a whole week on one piece, and makes and sells up to 200 a year. “It all depends on how hard I work,” he laughed.

For more information on Block’s work, stop in at the library display or visit his website at http://www-.greyswerks.com/~semiahmoo/