• 05.23.11

Jeremy Thomas Molds Steel Like Clay, By Heating It Up To 2000° F [Video]

After heating and molding these sheets of steel, Thomas then blows them up like balloons.

Jeff Koons isn’t the only artist with a penchant for inflating metal. Jeremy Thomas has taken a far less sensational tack, working quietly at a forge outside of Santa Fe, New Mexico, to build organic forms out of folded, blown-up pieces of steel.


[A documentary on Thomas’s process, by Ric Serena]

Each piece begins as welded circles of plate steel, which are then placed in a forge furnace and heated until malleable. (At Hades-like temperatures, about 2000° F, metal can be molded like clay.) The piece is then removed from the furnace and injected with bursts of pressurized air.

Most of the volume is powder-coated in bright, primary colors that reference farming machinery, while the rusted side gets an oxide patina, creating a soft, leathery contrast to the hard, shiny surfaces. According to the Thomas’s artist statement, “The use of color associated with heavy equipment (which tends to be viewed as a masculine point of pride)” sets up a juxtaposition when “placed on sensual forms.” A less insightful viewer — no one in this office, to be sure — might think they look like malformed fortune cookies. Regardless, they’re worth a gander.

[For our previous coverage of Oscar Zieta — who also inflates metal — click here]

About the author

Belinda Lanks is the editorial director of Co.Design. Before joining, she was the managing editor of Metropolis.