METALS | Jewelry and sculpture
Penland Affiliation | Penland Instructor 2014, 2018, Penland Studio Assistant
Artist Information | Studio artist; education: MFA Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, BFA University of Kansas School of Art and Design; teaching: University of Arkansas Little Rock; exhibitions: Penland Gallery (NC), Lillstreet Art Center (IL), Tsubame Industrial Materials Museum (Japan), Ornamental Metals Museum (TN)
Artist Bio | Ben Dory is a jeweler specializing in stainless steel granulation, broadly focusing on technological interpretations of traditional studio practices. Exhibiting nationally and internationally, his work can also be found in the collections of the Evansville Museum of Art, History, and Science (IL) and the Emprise Bank Collection in Wichita, KS.
Technical Information | Where most granulation uses a torch or a kiln, I use a specific type of machine to micro-weld the stainless granules to each other and to the base surface. The principle is based on resistance welding, where the current arcs at the point of most resistance. This is like tiny stud welding. Imagine your basic car fuse that looks like an “H.” The sides are thicker than the middle – a positive and negative side connected by a thin bridge. At normal levels, the electrical current travels across the middle region without a problem, although you would see an increase in temperature at this middle section where the current bottlenecks slightly to pass through. When there is too much current, the middle section heats up to the point of melting, breaking/shorting the circuit in order to protect sensitive electronics on the other side. In stainless granulation, I break the circuit on purpose at controlled points for each individual granule. Although the melting temp of the alloys used is between 2500 – 2700, I hold the tools and work by hand. The heat is so concentrated and the weld so localized that I only feel residual heat. It helps immensely if my tools are more conductive than stainless. Handmade and custom-wired tools from copper and silver are used to ensure that the weld doesn’t arc in the wrong spot or that I shock myself. Imagine a 1mm sphere touching a sheet of metal – the point of contact is miniscule. The smaller the point of contact the better.