I am inspired by architectural and geometric patterns, fascinated with digital fabrication technologies, but rooted in traditional handskills.
Jack of all Trades
When I was six years old my mother taught me how to sew on her old Singer, and I've been making things ever since. In highschool I practiced leatherworking and wood-carving. In college I studied jewelry with street-craftsmen in Costa Rica, learned basket-making with Baka pygmies in Cameroon, and blacksmithing in the Appalachian mountains of North Carolina (yes, I went to a very strange college). I have always focused on metalwork because fundamentally I like tools, the objects we use to shape the world around us. I worked as a blacksmith for several years after college, during which time I specialized in kitchen tools and furniture. In graduate school I dabbled with casting resins, circuitry, and upholstery, but always returned to metal as my primary medium.
I have never stopped learning about materials and techniques, and I continue to broaden my technical horizon. Whether it is working with a waterjet table or figuring out how to cut a bowling ball in half, I am constantly experimenting. I believe firmly that even as many of our industrial processes become more automated, there will always be an important part in our culture for the skill of a learned hand.
And yes, I still sew. I am currently putting together furry leggings for my Pan costume for Halloween. You can see pictures of side projects like this on my news page!
I am committed to creating artisan-quality goods at prices I myself can afford. The process for each of my products begins with the world around me. Patterns found on buildings, in flowers and trees, and in the rays of a setting sun become sketches, then designs, and finally 3D models. I work with CNC shops around the country who cut my designs out of durable materials and send the blanks back to me. Everything is done in the USA. Once back in my shop, each piece is welded, milled, ground, assembled, and burnished by hand.
Computer modelling and CNC manufacturing techniques are even more fabulous when combined with hand skills learned through years of practice. I strive to find a perfect balance between automated processes and craft expertise.
Kissing Machines & Cocktails?
When I am not making belt buckles and fashion accessories, I make mechanical sculpture. You can see some pictures of my work below, and you can see a lot of it at benjamincowden.com.
Over the years I have made machines that lick lollipops, machines that kiss, and machines that mix cocktails. I love interaction and mechanics.