“Artifact steel” comes from riveted thin-wall pipe that was first imported to the interior of Alaska in the 1920’s. For the next forty years it formed pipelines moving the tremendous quantities of water required for gold mining. Steel corrodes very slowly in the interior in part because of the half year of low temperatures. Under its rusty and pitted patina this abandoned steel pipe, although 50 to 80 year old, is still mostly sound and certainly serviceable as art.
There are miles of this steel pipe in diameters up to 36 inches piled in the hills and valleys around Fairbanks. The material used in this work was recovered from a long undisturbed stack that was overgrown with trees and buried in soil from years of composted leaves. “I consider it an indigenous material and a kind of buried treasure”.
The bright areas are polished stainless steel sheet metal that is joined to the artifact steel by TIG welding. The vivid yellows and reds are a delicate layer of iron oxide that are encouraged after fabrication with only vinegar and water.