At five years old, Steve Dulfer made his first welding torch out of Tinkertoys after watching metalworkers repair an iron fence in his neighborhood in suburban Washington, DC. At 13, he built his first forge using a blower he carved out of an old dishwasher and briquettes from his parents’ barbecue grill.
“Nails were the only thing I could find to stick in the fire,” he recalled. “I flattened them on the driveway with a carpenter’s hammer because I didn’t have an anvil.”
Naturalist. Artisan. Explorer. Archaeologist. Dulfermetal incorporates Steve’s passions, translating them into beautiful metal . “I’ve always loved wandering in the woods, and some of my favorite memories are of discovering the “treasure” of some long-forgotten rusty object,” said Dulfer. “A big part of my life’s work is to figure out how humans can relate to nature harmoniously.”
Steve’s love of nature led him to study biology at Tulane University. A brief career with the New Orleans Audubon and Nature Center fed his passion for working with nature, but his childhood metalworking dreams persisted. “I needed my work to better express my values and aesthetics,” he said.
In the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, Steve studied metalworking at Penland School of Crafts. During a visit to Memphis, he visited the National Ornamental Metal Museum. A blacksmithing exhibit highlighted the work of artisans in Santa Fe, New Mexico. A year later, Steve had moved west, launching his career high in the Sangre de Cristo mountains. A three-year apprenticeship with a master smith further shaped Steve’s metalworking, and a year of travel followed. After hand-forging with seasoned blacksmiths in South Africa, Spain, Portugal and the San Juan Islands, Steve returned to Santa Fe and began offering his own original works through Dulfermetal.
The blacksmith’s aesthetic has always carried with it a respect for natural forms. And, as in the natural world, ironworkers mimic nature’s efficiency, reassembling old bits of metal into something new. “Artistically, I’m always looking for a balance between nature’s creations and man’s,” said Steve. “My designs come to life through the alchemy of earth, air, fire, water. Every piece I make reflects my personal philosophy that humans and their work are intertwined with the planet we live on.”