Hamilton Dixon has been working with metal his entire working life. His very first job was as a welder on an offshore oil rig. He decided he liked working with metal but he didn’t like life on an oil rig, so he went to forging school in New Mexico. Then he moved to Dayton where he has been a successful full time artist for the past 30 years.
I have visited Hamilton twice. The first time I stopped by unannounced and saw Hamilton at work. More recently, I stopped by to see a finished piece called “Three O’Clock Prayer” that will be installed at the University of Dayton as part of the renovation of the Immaculate Conception Chapel.
I told Hamilton I thought “Three O’Clock Prayer” was beautiful.
“As time passes it will be even more interesting,” Hamilton explained. “Part of the structure is steel, which will weather with time. Other parts are stainless steel which will remain unchanged.”
Hamilton walked me through his work process. “My greatest joy comes at the beginning of the project – the design step. I love deciding how to make pieces of steel look like a flowing, organic thing.”
Next, after getting a customer to commit the money, I lay everything out on the floor life size. These marks on the floor are left over from a recent project.
“The final and most time consuming step is to forge steel and hammer and bend it into the shapes I need. This is a physically demanding type of art. At the end of the day I’m tired.”
I noticed a loft above part of the studio. “Someday I plan to finish that loft and use it as a space for making my forged jewelry,” Hamilton explained.
We climbed up to the loft. This gave us a good view of Hamilton’s studio space.
Much of Hamilton’s work is in private collections, or in public spaces outside Dayton. But there is a lot of his work in nearby public spaces. I suggested to Hamilton that he should put out maps to lead people on a “Hamilton Dixon Tour of Dayton.”
The tour could include the Dayton airport, the Dayton Art Institute (shown below), Park Drive in South Park, Serenity Pines at the University of Dayton (also shown below), the weather vane at Delco Park, the Kettering City Building and many other places.
I close with a group of photos from my first visit to Hamilton Dixon’s studio. He was too busy working to pay attention to the photographer – my favorite situation.