Art & Artists
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iron artisan marian mal
Iron Artisan Marian Mal
November, 2013, Page 32
Photo by Garrett Cook
Mal stands in his outdoor studio next to the unfinished tier of what is to be another of his signature iron chandeliers.
Artisan Marian Mal forges detailed iron works that evoke memories of the Old World
Marian Mal was taken aback the first time he heard himself referred to as an artist. Flattered and a bit perplexed, he looked up the word in the dictionary and began to chew on it, eventually concluding that he thought of himself more as a craftsman.
Growing up in Romania, Marian was artistically inclined and enjoyed sketching as a child. He later made a career for himself as a real estate investor. When he and his wife, Candace, purchased a home in Scottsdale 11 years ago and remodeled it, they discovered that they needed new light fixtures. Unable to find anything that spoke to them, Marian decided to make the lights himself.
Having welded such things as gates and railings in the past, he was able to build the fixtures “surprisingly fast,” according to Candace. “They were done so well and so quickly,” she continues. “When people came to visit our house and saw the lights, they began asking, ‘Where did you get these?’ And it all just kind of snowballed from there.”
While Marian admits that he never considered becoming a full-time artist, he had always been drawn to working with iron. “Iron is solid. There is a deep satisfaction for me when I see something that I envisioned come to life; to bring it to a point that makes me feel pleased and challenges me to reach for the next level,” he explains. “Now I can make almost anything with iron.”
As of late, Mal’s business, Arte de Fier, which translates in Romanian to “arts of iron,” has expanded to include iron creations that go beyond the signature chandeliers. These include sconces and pendants, as well as fireplace screens, curtain tiebacks and candleholders. Candace also contributes, handcrafting beeswax candle sheaths that give a more natural look to the light fixtures’ electric “candles.”
The couple works well together and jokes about their artistic differences. “I always say that if we weren’t passionate about our work, then we would have nothing to argue about,” Candace jokes.
Marian uses several different processes to bend and cut the iron to his liking, mixing old traditions with new technologies. He explains that the greatest challenge comes with figuring out how to put the bigger components of a fixture together. “The piece has to be appropriate for the size of the room it’s going to hang in. And it has to be balanced, so there’s a lot of engineering involved,” he explains.
According to Candace, Marian loves doing custom work. His pieces are completely customizable through Fiesta Furnishings in Scottsdale, where a large selection of his fixtures are on display. Although Mal’s designs lean toward historical elegance—dripping with crosses, fleur-de-lis and hand-cut crystals—the artisan has created Contemporary pieces as well.
“The Old World stylings really represents who we are,” Mal notes. “But custom work is open to the requester’s vision, and I can dress it up in my own way. It’s all about making it look good, without having the piece be overwhelming.”
Named after Marian Mal’s uncle, the Constantin Tray design with its antique-finished brass lion’s head and cross detailing, draws its influence from Roman Emperor, Constantine the Great.
The Seville chandelier takes inspiration from the Seville Cathedral in Andalusia, Spain. Its candle covers contain more than 70 pounds of hand-poured beeswax.
Amy, named after a customer from Texas, features a decorative cross-capped pull chain in the center. The piece also boasts hand-cut hard rock crystals from Egypt. Aside from hard rock accents, the artisan also sometimes uses Swarovski crystals in his fixtures.
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