To get to Dick Davis' workshop, pass through acres and acres of public land along the pristine Boardman River, a blue-ribbon trout stream.
Davis began building his home before electricity was available to his lot; now a comfy, yet rustic, log cabin sits next to an expansive studio, complete with a forge, multiple vises, sanders, stone polishers, anvils, and racks and shelves of metal and wood. The studio-workshop stays warm even during northern Michigan winters, thanks to the heat from the forge.
The art Dick Davis creates is all around us, but it takes true craftsmanship to create it. A railroad spike becomes a kitchen tool. a chainsaw blade turns into a knife, a rock is transformed into a vase.
Davis sees art everywhere, whether when walking through the woods, combing a beach or picking up fallen timber after a storm. These pieces become mixed media sculptures in his river workshop, from forged-metal fireplace tools (in the shape of cattails) to buffed and shined stones embedded into tables.
Davis has practiced his skills of forging, sculpting, carving and more, for decades, learning the trade from other masters. And he passes along those tricks to the next generation, working with apprentices to teach them the different hammers, grits and grooves that are part of being an artist of natural materials.
Watch Davis at work.