February 22, 2019
Tim Cranford did not envision being an artist when he first started working in plant maintenance at age 17, but it certainly helped him develop the metal work skills he now uses to create his popular sculptures. He was influenced by other metal workers, such as his foreman Wayne Summerhill, who was doing metal art work at the time. Tim said that that first job did not last long, but it started his passion for metal work which has lasted over 40 years. Tim once owned E Z Rider of Memphis, a custom motorcycle shop. In that business he custom fabricated items such as teardrop fuel tanks. He also owned a metal fabrication shop located in Memphis.
Tim said that nature is the major inspiration for his art. He makes sculptures of feathers and birds, as well as emulating Native American art. His Hummingbird sculptures were the hit of this year’s Hummingbird Festival which took place at Strawberry Plains Audubon Center on September 7-9. His work has also been displayed at the Oakland Festival, Oakland, Tennessee, and he is the featured artist at The Whittington Gallery in Hot Springs, Arkansas, October 5th, as well as Millstone Market in Germantown, Tennessee October 27, 2018.
Tim’s family has an artistic bent as well. His wife Cindy is an actress and his 8-year-old daughter Lola has designed several metal art pieces, including the popular “Heart with Wings.”
Tim’s latest piece of metal art is a horse’s head, constructed of steel by welding and grinding, which is how most of Tim’s sculptures are made. Tim said that idea came to him from the front cover of the March 2018 issue of The Mid-South Horse Review lying on his workbench. It also didn’t hurt that he and his family have three horses pastured at their farm near Somerville, Tenn., just a few steps from his workshop. This herd consists of a Mini named Sweet Pea, a Paso Fino named Andale, and a Paint named Princess. He said that he used the photo rather than one of his horses as a model because “It is too hard to get the horse to stand still long enough,” he said.
Many horse owners find their “perfect mount” by first looking in the horse’s eye. This is how Tim started his horse head sculpture, starting with the eyes. He needed just the right shape and proportion that is unique to the eye of a horse.
Many years of looking at everyday objects with an artist’s eye has taught Tim that, what might be right in front of you, might be usable in a sculpture. Sure enough, he found that the back of a measuring spoon was just the right shape for the eyes. He scrounged through his kitchen drawers and found a tablespoon just the right size, and by the way, measuring spoons are made out of steel – just the right material.
His technique involves cutting out pieces of steel with a plasma cutter, building a frame, and then heat, hammer, shape, weld, and grind the steel pieces to form the sculpture. When the process is complete he may coat the sculpture with his signature “Controlled Rust” – the application of copper sulfate, which gives each piece he makes a unique finish.
For more information and photos of Tim’s art, visit Cranford Creations website at: www.cranfordcreations.com.
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