Chitina Artist offers students a chance to prove their mettle
By Alexis Brown Hawknews Writer Clank! Clank! Clank! This was the sound of a wooden hammer pounding away on metal. Though it’s hard to explain how exactly it sounds, “clank” gives a pretty good idea of the sounds that flowed from the Kenny Lake multi-purpose room for two weeks in October. Funded by a grant from the Artists in Residence Program, Art Koeninger visited Kenny Lake School to teach the junior high and high school students his passion.
Koeninger focused specifically on metal work. One way of transforming metal into something miraculous is through soldering, the process in which two or more metal items are joined together by melting a filler metal (solder) into the joint between them. Soldering differs from welding in that it does not involve melting the work pieces. Three different colors used for wire and the slabs of metal were bronze, silver, and copper.
These metals can also be used to form specific designs. The exterior part of the metal is called the negative piece. The interior design is called the positive. Some interior designs are used on top of a ring after a general circular ring is made. This is done by pounding the metal with a wooden hammer against a device used to round the edges. Rings were the most common form of metal jewelry that students made. They also made bracelets, pins, earrings, hand bands, trinkets, and random blobs of metal.
Kenny Lake eleventh-grader Kristi Knutson made a head band embellishment that said “live, laugh, and love.” “I wanted to make something different from everyone else.” she said. “So with the help from my mom, we came up with the design,” which symbolized her view of life.
After everyone had finished their design, Kristi was glad to make a different type of art. “It has been enjoyable and challenging,” she said. Though we were taken out of class for these art sessions, Knutson said it was well worth it in the end.
Kristi’s younger sister, Deanna, also enjoyed the two-week class. “What may have been funny for me, but not for Art Koeninger was breaking a lot of his cutting blades, which I then hid after I broke them,” she said. She designed a ring with metal that over lapped. The first layer was a musical note and then the second layer was a treble clef twisted from wire. “I was excited to get out of class and go do art, but one time no one reminded me to go and I missed the class. I was sad. Still, I wish we could do it more often. Art was really helpful when I didn’t know what to do, which was quite often.”
In 1977, Art Koeninger bought the “Chitina Tin Shop” building. He planned on using it for a cabin in the woods, but instead turned it into what is now known as, “Spirit Mountain Artwork.” In this shop he sells homemade pottery, water colored paintings, and a variety of jewelry, including his metal creations. Most of these creations are made in a person’s home so the value of the design is worth more because of the time and creativity put into the piece of art.
Some might say Art's name resembles what he enjoys doing, and they are probably right. Metal art is a passion he generously shared with Kenny Lake students who all appreciated what he had to offer.
Tools of the metal trade. Photo by Alexis Brown.
Cody Brown and Mr. Koeninger talk over a design option. Left, Hannah James produced this beautiful copper butterfly. Photos by Alexis Brown.
Kristi Knutson and Abbie Schierholt enjoy working on metal art.
Amber Lenard made this beautiful earrings. Photo by Alexis Brown.
Kenny Lake students produced a wide selection of metal work during their two week workshop held at the school. Photo by Alexis Brown.
Wyatt shows how handy he is with a torch. Photo by Alexis Brown.