Saturday, October 25, 2014

Rachel Pace - Steeling Copper Metal Studio

I had this idea to give my friends hand-crafted, metal garden art as Christmas presents. The only problembeing—I knew nothing about hand-crafting metal anything, let alone garden art. One day, my Uncle Harold turned me loose in his barn with a specialized cutting torch called a plasma cutter. Standing there that cold, cold December day in 2011, absolutely fascinated by the frog that I had just willed to life from this rusty, awful piecee of steel—Steeling Copper Metal Studio was born—only I just didn’t know it yet. The first piece I gave as a gift netted me an order for four additional pieces which turned into even more orders for custom pieces. Months later a traveling display was created to be able to exhibit at arts & crafts fairs and I became a mobile retailer! Isn’t it funny the twists and turns life takes sometimes?
Looking back I guess metalworking should have come naturally to me. My Dad made some of the most beautiful hunting knives you will ever see. The sounds of grinding steel filled our basement my entire childhood. Never in my life would I have expected that all of his knife-making tools would eventually end up at my house being used to make garden art! If my father could see me now he'd laugh and tell me how those are pretty expensive knife-making tools I'm using to make "junk." Then he’d place an order...
However, it is my Uncle Harold I truly have to thank most. After my Dad passed away in 2008 I told him we would always be there for him. I guess it's safe to say none of us knew what we were getting into. He fought an epic battle with health issues over a two year period. How could either of us have known that one day he would inspire me into pursuing a career as a metal artist? At the end, his biggest regret was that he “hadn’t taught me everything I needed to know.” He was my other Dad, my teacher, my friend, my inspiration, my biggest supporter and my partner-in-crime. I hope I finally convinced him he opened a door to a world I would have never known, and gave me gifts and memories that will last me the rest of my life. He told me “Do something you love and you never have to work a day in your life.” I truly believe this is it.
What an honor it is each day to put both of their tools to work. I’d like to think maybe—just maybe—a little part of each of them can live on in the pieces I create.
Somewhere along the line in this journey I decided I needed a marketing “ploy,” some way to engage people in conversation at shows. I needed something unique that would tie into my garden art business. I had read articles about the plight of the Monarch Butterfly. It seemed like a noble, worthwhile cause. I got online and did some research and found out the best way to increase their odds of survival was for us humans to intervene and plant more milkweed. The seed of an idea was planted, so to speak—I would hand out milkweed seeds. A funny thing happened though, one countless butterfly enthusiast willattest to. After finding my first caterpillar I was completely hooked. My “ploy” of handing out seeds to promote my business has as ironically turned into me using my business to promote butterfly conservation. The butterflies have taken over my flower gardens and, at times, my kitchen and they havemade an indelible mark on my heart as well. I became a certified, registered Monarch Waystation—#9033—and in my first year I was able to raise and release 70+ adult butterflies into the migrating generation. From planting a single seed comes a true miracle of nature. I hope to inspire as many people as possible to do the same.
I look forward to meeting fellow artisans and patrons and sharing each of my passions with all of you at the 2014 NYMCM.
Rachel Pace

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