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Wood and iron artist shows off work in Prescott

When Dave Gavin presented his art work at a show in New Richmond a couple of years ago, one of the requirements he had was to give a speech on it.

Afterwards, a couple of people were so impressed with Gavin's presentation, they wanted to compliment him on it.

"They asked me how many times I said it," the normally quiet Gavin said. "I replied I only said it once."

Now, Gavin, a Beldenville resident, gets to do it again, as he and son Jesse's work will be featured at the Great River Road Visitor and Learning Center in Prescott for the next seven weeks, starting this weekend. An artist's reception will be held from 2-4 p.m. this Sunday, with Dave and Jesse scheduled to talk at 2:30 p.m.

Dave and Jesse will present their work relating to iron and wood, in which they make functional and ornamental objects in which the materials complement each other and as each piece allows. Their items include fireplace tools, roses, door pulls, candleholders, knives, lamps and more.

This foray into the art world doesn't come as a surprise, considering Dave was a certified state welder in the Twin Cities for 15 years and has been associated with horses for nearly 40 years, either as a trainer or a farrier (a specialist dealing with the horses' feet).

"I've made a lot of my own shoes for horses," he said.

The Prescott exhibit came while Gavin was at work. He was repairing the hooves of a couple horses belong to Sandra Hudson, who works at the Learning Center. Hudson saw some of Gavin's work in a photo album and the rest is history.

"It's their idea because they never had anyone work with iron before," he said.

They have a point. Dave explained he was at a recent meeting of the Twin Cities Guild of Metalsmiths and he brought along some of his works, and the response he got was surprising.

"No one up there has seen anything like it," he said.

As a result, he said the possibilities on what he could create are endless.

"I can do anything you pretty much imagine," he said. "Ideas and inspiration can come out of nowhere."

For example, he made a letter opener out of chainsaw chain. On a hunting knife he made, a blade was made from bicycle chain.

However, working with a metal like iron means there are limitations. For example, every design Dave and Jesse make are original and can't be reproduced.

"There's a lot that goes into it," he said. "There's the constant to keep (iron) warm because iron gets red at 1200 degrees and you can't work at it much less than that."

Working with temperatures that warm mean the pair even has to make their own tools, as traditional tools wouldn't be able to withstand the pressure.

Therefore, some of the items which are for sale aren't cheap. Dave said the cheapest hunting knife is $350.

The Learning Center is open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays and noon-5 p.m. Sundays. After Memorial Day, the hours change to 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and noon-8 p.m. Sundays.

Jason Schulte

Jason Schulte is a reporter for the New Richmond News since February 2015. Prior to that he spent eight years at the Pierce County Herald in Ellsworth. His duties with the News will include covering news out of Hammond and Roberts along with action from St. Croix County court system. He lives in Roberts. 

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