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Metal Artisan Billy Daschbach

Author: LeeAnn DiSanti
Issue: July, 2012, Page 29
Photos by Garrett Cook
 
Billy Daschbach uses a Little Giant Power Hammer to forge steel in his workshop.



Metal Artisan Billy Daschbach uses multiple materials to craft Unique Pieces

Billy Manfred Daschbach does not consider himself an everyday metalworker—far from it. Instead of being set in traditional ways, the artist and owner of Manfred Design Inc. in Mesa, Arizona, forges ahead by blending industrial metals with delicate glass or carved wood adornments to create one-of-a-kind works of functional art.

“There is a balance between the fluid, elegant glass and the more brutal metal,” Daschbach says of his work. “Make a mistake with metal, and you can cut, grind and rework it. Glass only has a short period of time where it’s hot enough to work.”

The Montana native first experimented with different art forms in high school. However, it was a professor at Montana State University—where he studied chemistry and studio art—who taught him the value of individual creativity. “She would choose students’ pieces that weren’t exact or centered on a page,” he recalls. “I realized the best art isn’t the reproduction.”

Among items the craftsman designs and manufactures are steel door pulls such as those pictured here.
After three years of college, Daschbach moved to Seattle, where he picked up glass-blowing skills. He came to Arizona in the late 1990s and tried his hand at metal-
work. The skill level required to form the material fascinated him. “Metal isn’t forgiving,” he states. “It takes effort to heat, work and form it.”

In 2001, the craftsman combined his artistic, glass-blowing and metalworking talents and launched his company; he now puts his chemistry background to work when creating custom patinas.

Daschbach and his team of artisans manufacture a range of items, from massive entry gates, hand-forged rivets and furniture to lighting, door and window grilles, hardware and sculptural works. On paper, his designs have an air of whimsy, depicting graceful scrolls, metal blossoms with blown-glass flowers, or twisting steel that resembles young trees. Reality is another matter. “That’s the beauty of metalwork,” Daschbach remarks. “In the picture, a piece looks fragile. But when completed, an entry gate may be 10 feet tall, six feet wide and weigh about 300 pounds.”

Many of his designs are drawn from memorable life experiences; he hopes his creations leave lasting impressions for his clients as well. “I want them to always remember the emotion they felt when they first saw my piece.”

His creations include a custom steel gate (above left) adorned with blown-glass discs by local artist Joshua Dopp. Above right is Daschbach’s steel bookshelf with a branch-like design. The shelves are twice-reclaimed oak wood.

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