Tim stands proudly in front of his work.

Stunning steelwork at the Studio Connexion Gallery

Steel. What does that word bring to mind? Structural material? A Judas Priest album? Kitchenware? A football team?

  • Jul. 29, 2015 11:00 a.m.

Angus Schroff

Arrow Lakes News

Steel. What does that word bring to mind? Structural material? A Judas Priest album? Kitchenware? A football team?

How about art? Tim Andrew and his partner Giselle Duval, the two halves of Rave ‘n’ Iron, use metal to make everything from earrings to money clips to lighter cases, as well as what’s on display at the Studio Connexion Gallery in downtown Nakusp until August 9 — landscape artwork done on solid stainless steel tiles. Featuring the skies, mountains, rivers, lakes and trees of the Kootenays, the works are impressive for more reasons than just the fantastic end result. How exactly do you etch such fine details as individual tree branches on a material that’s famed for its use in heavy construction?

The answer, of course, is to use something even stronger. Andrew uses a diamond-tipped dremel tool that rotates at around four to five thousand RPM to detail. For less delicate bits, he uses wire wheels and other industrial abrasives.

This combination of practical knowhow and artistic application is at the heart of both Andrew’s and Duval’s works. The tiles themselves look wonderful, conveying the majesty of Kootenay nature and even changing colour depending on the light. From one angle, the sky above Saddleback Mountain could be dark, and from another, it could be as bright as a sweltering summer day. One can’t help but think of the contrast between the serene end product and the way each tile was made. The tools used to make a mark in steel require a very steady hand — one slip and there goes the dremel, cutting a gash across the lovingly-detailed mountain you’ve been working on all day.

When asked about such mistakes, Andrew just laughs. “Sometimes they happen, and you just have to work with it. I usually start my original pieces with a single mark in the metal, so if something goes wrong early, I can take it in stride and build off it.”

For the same reason stainless steel can be hard to work with even for masters like Andrew and Duval, it has incredible longevity as art. It takes concerted effort and power tools to damage the 6×6 to 12×24 inch tiles that Andrew uses as canvas. From the indoors to the outdoors and anything short of a trash compactor, the engravings will remain untouched by the elements for… well, pretty much forever.

Andrew has always wanted to be self-employed, and the skills he gained from industrial metalworking (he helped make aircraft) have allowed him to do that in a rather spectacular fashion. Rave ‘n’ Iron has a website, international shipping, and an average review rating of 4.8/5 online. It’s more than just numbers, though; you can see it when he talks about what he does, and you can see it in the landscapes he’s brought to warm life through cold steel.

Special thanks go to Anne Béliveau, who organized the opening event and catering, as well as Jennifer Cross of Jennifer Chocolates for making those delicious chocolate-covered fruit thingies that disappeared with alarming speed.

Andrew and Duval’s work can be found at theraveniron.com, or on their Youtube, Etsy, and Pinterest pages. Andrew’s tile landscapes can be found at the Studio Connexion Gallery in Nakusp. Regular viewing times are between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m., Tuesdays to Saturdays. Alternatively, a private viewing can be arranged by calling the gallery at 250-265-3586.


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