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Penland Gallery Artist of the Week – Marc Maiorana, Metal Worker


Cassilhaus Railing

It is not difficult to recognize work created by Marc Maiorana. There are certain identifying characteristics found in the work, whether it is functional or sculptural, recent work or from early in his career.

To work with material in such a spartan and ascetic fashion requires a bit of courage. Rather than the addition of some trademark technique or design element – it is the absence of such things in Marc’s work that is your first clue. Surfaces are clean, clean, clean, with barely a hint that a heavy tool or a loud formidable machine played any part in forming the steel. The courage is that of exposure – if you are going to form a 3/8″ rod into a perfect circle as it peels away from another perfect circle – you open yourself up to a certain vulnerability of perfect-ness, don’t you?

Marc also negotiates the area where function and design intersect very well. His line of steel work for the home, Iron Design Company (even the name is pretty direct and to the point), are not extraneous products – they are items we actually use, and often need in our homes. Here again are Marc’s well-considered details – the tension hold on the candle and the nearly hidden hanging devices for the coat rack and book sconce. The surfaces are pristine but also manage to retain a warmth or softness – the edges are just touched to remove a physical and visual sharpness, the patina is just barely imperfect – enough to remind you that Marc was part of the process – made by human hands.

Book Sconce

One might describe Marc’s work as having restraint. During his time here at Penland it would seem that that discipline is part of his work ethic as well – along with grace and a high standard of craftsmanship that is found in his work.

He has designed railings for Penland School as well as for private homes, has shown his large sculptural work in gallery and museum shows, and his functional work (with partner Robyn Raines) has gotten quite a bit of notice in the press and on the internet design sites. The Penland Gallery is fortunate to have a number of pieces from Marc’s Iron Design Company line, and will have one of his larger sculptural works later this summer when he is teaching.

Circle Wall Panel

About Marc

Marc first learned blacksmithing from his father and later earned a BFA in metals from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. He was a resident artist at Penland School of Crafts from 2002-2005 and has taught at numerous institutions including Marywood University (PA), Peters Valley Craft Center (NJ), Penland School of Crafts (NC), and Haystack School of Crafts (ME).

Marc has exhibited widely including the Architectural Digest Home Design Show (NY), the National Ornamental Metal Museum (TN), the Houston Center for Contemporary Crafts, and the Center for Craft, Creativity and Design (NC). He has been published in four Schiffer books on contemporary metalwork, and featured in Icon magazine, Gourmet magazine, Dwell’s on-line magazine, and the New York Times.

Marc maintains a studio for his Iron Design Company and Marc Maiorana Studio in Cedar Bluff, VA, in a converted gas station.


About the Work

Iron Design Company was established to promote modern designs in hand formed iron objects by metalworker Marc Maiorana. Additionally, IDC supports an apprenticeship with the local high school, giving students a unique opportunity to work with their hands.

Iron Design Company shapes steel into inviting and unique articles. Contrary to belief, modern day usage of iron is more accurately steel. Familiar terms such as “wrought” and “forged” describe how iron itself and iron goods were made and continue to be common descriptions of formed steel products. In many ways, our studio is similar to the ages-old iron workshop, yet with a number of modern technical conveniences. We use heat, hammer, and hydraulics to form steel stock; and pencil, clay, and wire to draft and model designs.

Coat Rack

The majority of the items we create are formed in steel, the world’s most recycled material. The steel Iron Design Company uses originates in steel mills producing structural type steels with 80-90% recycled content. Interestingly, steel goods will always contain recycled steel. Our specialty is giving grace to a bold, stubborn building material and kind of defying the structural stereotype that steel is often associated with.

Penland Gallery’s web page 

Marc’s website