Metal Workers in Georgia: Ivan Bailey Metal Studio
He calls it “hand-forged custom art metal,” and working out of his Monticello studio, Ivan Bailey is one of the country’s top practitioners of the art. Customers from all over the world seek him out.
“The most satisfying aspect of my work,” Bailey says, “is to share the creative experience directly with my clients. They come with a need and often with a concept which I develop with them is such a manner that their involvement in the process is real, direct and satisfying.”
The concepts that Bailey and his clients develop together may include chandeliers, grand gates and elaborate fencing with in-flight herons, dramatic interior sconces, tables - such a variety of objects and designs that one can only get an idea of the scope of his subject matter and the detailed intricacy of his designs by viewing the 41 stunning slides on his website; and probably not even then
After graduating from Portland State University (Oregon) with a BA in art in 1969, Bailey got on a bus and headed east. He spent what he calls "the great hippie summer" studying jewelry, metalsmithing, and stone faceting on a work scholarship at the Penland School of Crafts in Spruce Pine, North Carolina. One of his teachers there, Robert Ebendorf, enlisted Bailey into the graduate program at the University of Georgia. "Bob is a great person and helped me considerably with connections for my future journey," Bailey says. During his first year of grad school, Bailey met Alex W. Bealer at his workshop at Southern Illinois University (memorably, it was the weekend of the Kent State massacre). That summer, Bailey spent his last extended period of time in Portland and decided to pursue blacksmithing in earnest. Back in Athens, he spent many Sundays at Bealer's house, blacksmithing and meeting some of the old timers Bealer mentions in his seminal book, The Art of Blacksmithing. Bailey earned his MFA in jewelry and metalsmithing in 1972, and married Bealer's oldest daughter the following year.
Through the World Craft Council, Bailey located two smithing schools in Germany. He wrote to each to see if he might be admitted if he were to receive a grant to study with them. The Craft School of the City of Aachen responded positively; they had never before had an American student. Bailey applied successfully for both a German Academic Exchange Fellowship and a Fulbright, reluctantly declining the latter in favor of the larger German grant. Bailey's year in Aachen was, as one would say, "ausgezeichnet." The school was all he had hoped for and his professor treated him more as a son than he did any of his German students.
Meanwhile, the University of Georgia's PR department published an article on Bailey which was distributed widely in the Southeast. He was invited to the city of Savannah to meet some "movers and shakers" and to determine whether his work might be a good fit in their future development plans. Professor Ebendorf accompanied him to an interview with the president of the Citizens and Southern Bank, who committed to back Bailey when he returned from Europe. In Savannah, Bailey operated Bailey's Forge from 1973 until 1981. In 1976, his first son, Oliver, was born and five years later a second son, Warren. The family relocated to Atlanta in 1981, where Bailey established Ivan Bailey Metal Studio; the shop continues under that name in Monticello, where Bailey moved six years ago.
Master metal worker Ivan Bailey creates a variety of hand-forged custom art metal in his Monticello studio. His work is in demand world-wide.