About Dwayne S. Cranford
As a child Dwayne spent hours cutting and shaping pieces of cardboard paper to create 3D models of motorcycles, carefully forming each part to fit the bike perfectly and create a replica of an authentic motorcycle. Dwayne’s artist talents emerged at a very young age. A self taught artist Dwayne S. Cranford, a Colorado native learned his welding skills in a foundry and took them with him to serve in the United States Army. Later Dwayne spent his days installing natural gas pipeline. On his days off as a hobby he began applying his welding skills to create steel sculptures. His figurative sculptures are created from materials such as bike chains, concrete nails and scrap steel that had been discarded. Dwayne also combines stone with the metal to create durable, weatherproof furniture.
Cranford’s work has been shown around Colorado, Nevada, California, Texas, Wyoming, Minnesota and in other parts of the United States. It can be found at The Pine Haven, Estes Park (CO), The City of Lone Tree, (CO), City of Heath, (TX), The Best Western Pioneer Court, Lusk (WY) and numerous private collections.
Dwayne’s childhood horse, Sequoia
Interview with the Artist:
We spend a lot of time talking about the furniture and the benefits of the design. However, Dwayne doesn’t just make furniture. He is often inspired and pulled to use his artistic gifts in a number of ways. As a small child, Dwayne was drawn to design, create and expand on what he noticed around him. He meticulously made models of motorcycles because he was interested in the symmetry and challenge they presented. Today he focuses more on nature and capturing the awe that is present all around him.
We thought it might be fun to sit down with Dwayne and ask a few questions about how he creates and why.
What Inspires you and gives you ideas?
I am inspired by horses because they are majestic, a challenge and I appreciate unique, one-of-a-kind things that are beautiful. I like never seen before designs and functional pieces. I was inspired to make “Rusty,” the rearing horse sculpture, because I was looking for a challenge. I was not even sure if I could make a life-sized horse and have it look good. After I made him, I thought it would be neat for him to have a friend, that is when I made “Chisel.” My vision was to have them together in a scene, rearing in a dramatic dual with muscles tensed and nostrils flared. It was a huge accomplishment when I put the two pieces together that I had visualized for years in my head. It brought tears to my eyes.
I am passionate for horses because I grew up with them and many people like horses. I prefer animals with defined muscles. Growing up I had a favorite horse, he was 16 hands high and his name was Sequoia. I went to horse school for 5 years to learn about horses, how to ride and care for them.
What is the creative process?
I use pictures, models and scale a piece off of it. I spend hours researching the internet and printing pictures for a guide. Living in the open country and seeing horses in the fields is a constant inspiration. I am drawn towards the shape of the animal and how I can manipulate metal to make it come alive.
How do you start a piece?
I begin with the bridge of the nose and work my way from there. I cut pieces of steel, shape and hammer them with an anvil or swage block. I weld it one piece at a time working on adding definition to the muscle groups. Sometimes if a piece does not look right, I will cut it off and rebuild it completely over. I use an armature inside to reinforce the structure. An armature is a structure inside the piece made of piping that reinforces and holds the sculpture. It probably does not need this because it is made of 1/8″ steel, but I tend to over-engineer my work.
How did you learn to do sculpture? Did you train, take classes or is it a natural gift that you have developed?
I have never taken a sculpture class other than art in school. This is just a natural talent or skill that I have worked on over the years.
What future pieces do you plan on building?
I have a burning desire to create a zebra, Bengal tiger, giraffe and a mystical seahorse with a horse head and the body of a serpent. I am drawn towards animals that have patterns that I can use pieces of steel and leave negative space, like just doing the strips on a zebra or tiger. Most of my art is something that I see in my mind and sparks a creative idea that I can visually see in metal.
I would like to do more horse heads in the future using stainless steel. Some will have more color.
How do your sculptures influence making the furniture? And do you see your furniture as art, as you see the sculptures?
The furniture does not inspire my sculpture because it is more functional. Sculpture is much harder than making furniture. I do enjoy making custom tables that are sculptural and incorporating unusual stone like petrified wood, tiger iron, polished stone and combining it with a custom steel base.
How does art influence your life?
I appreciate creative, beautiful things more. My art always keeps me thinking of new and different ways to create. I am always looking for the next challenge.
Man of Metal:
You may only know of Stone Furniture when you think of Dwayne, however, that is only one facet of his talent. Indeed working with metal is what inspired Dwayne to start creating Stone Furniture with the art like qualities of the metal stands and support for the furniture. When Dwayne isn’t making functional art furniture he is creating beautiful sculptures.
Every craftsman has his or her go-to medium, whether it be wood, steel, bronze, clay, wool, silver, etc., and for some people this is because they feel deeply connected with that particular medium. For Dwayne, working with any material (excluding plastics) has come very naturally. He often works with stone and wood, and is very skilled with these, but he predominately feels drawn to metals. He is a true ‘Man of Steel,’ working with all types of metals from copper, brass, steel, stainless steel, aluminum and bronze.
Metalsmithing, though, is not the most straightforward of arts. Cutting and assembling heavy, cold, rigid steel into usable shapes is quite the challenge, and as a result the realm of steel art is one of fewer contributions.
Few artists match the level of detail and precision that Dwayne puts into each and every sculpture. He truly puts all of his focus and heart into his creations. It is because of his character and passion for the creative process that he is able to work with metal so powerfully. Working with metal requires mental strength, artistic vision, and exceptional patience. At the scale that he works at, it also requires some real muscle.
A metal studio is full of cutting, grinding, welding, and heavy lifting. Metal dust floats through the air and mixes with sounds from heavy metal bands like Metallica and Disturbed. In Dwayne’s shop, heavy metal is both a physical and auditory experience.
Dwayne is known for working with large-case assemblies of sheet metal. He can spend up to 4 months working on one 11-foot-tall, life-sized sculpture.
He collects parts from junk yards, farms, and steel recycling. He then cleans the dirt, grease and rust off to incorporate them into his unique works of art with hammering, cutting, and welding. This process is a real labor of love, and Dwayne’s nerves of steel and heart of gold are what allow him to be the Metal Master that he is.
How to work with Dwayne:
Maybe you could use a sculpture to enhance your home, but are not sure what you would want. That is the job for an artist, to envision and bring to life something that has never been seen before. Dwayne can make it easy for you. Just send him a text or email with a picture of a space that you want something whether it is for a wall, the garden or an entryway. Share some thoughts about what you like and Dwayne can get to work with ideas.
Just some food for thought what about an abstract bicycle sculpture, a buffalo, an abstract skier, a seahorse, a kinetic sculpture, or some kind of flowing figurative abstract sculpture. Anything is possible and Dwayne is always up for a challenge!
If you are looking to enhance your environment with Stone Furniture and or a beautiful sculpture Dwayne is here to help you create a beautiful and tranquil space that reflects your unique style.
Text a picture of your space to 970.222.0898 and he will get working on ideas.
My sculpture is a reflection of my desire to create challenging show-stopping pieces of art. I choose to work with metal because of its durability and longevity. Being able to stop a horse in action, capture and maintain the definition of its muscle structure and strength is my greatest reward. I am challenged by the complexity and beauty of the horse and with each piece I try a more complex stance. I work with stone, steel, copper, stainless steel & aluminum.