Friday, January 6, 2017


©2008 Donald Doiron

In 2008, we had a visit from our friend Donald Doiron, who is a sculptor and knifemaker in Messines, Quebec. Ivaan made beautiful knife handles and Donald made beautiful knife blades, so it was no surprise that they had a lot in common. Even though Ivaan was within a few months of the end of his life, he enjoyed socializing with his fellow artist and hearing about what Donald was up to.

One of Donald's specialties was working in Damascus steel.  If you've never seen Damascus steel before, it's the puff pastry of metalsmithing: two or more kinds of steel layered against each other, heated and hammered, folded, heated, hammered and refolded so you can see the pattern made by each of the types of steel.  It takes a lot of skill to make Damascus steel.  Donald's knife blades are exquisite.

About a month after Donald's visit, a heavy package arrived in the mail, addressed to Ivaan.  We tore off the brown paper wrapping.  Inside was a box for a computer printer.  We set the box aside, wondering why Donald was sending us a printer.  I offered to phone Donald that evening when he got in from work and ask him about it.

In moving the box, however, I noted that it seemed unusually heavy for a printer, so I opened one corner of it, pulled out the packaging, and was amazed to discover an incredibly beautiful Damascus steel sculpture inside. We were both stunned into silence, watching the light hitting the sculpture and marvelling at the design and artistry.

It was mounted on a whitish, rough-hewn stone base, and if I were to describe it, it was like the curved tail of a fish above the surface of the ocean. On one side was a flourish of different kinds of steel, as if the fish had shaken a spray of water from its tail into the  air.

This is no small, lightweight sculpture.  It's tall and heavy and has an extraordinary quality that is typical of Ivaan's work, in that it is beautiful from every vantage point.  Ever since 2008, it has had pride of place in our home.

These days, it is usually displayed in the window of Atelier Ivaan, where the light is best.  It attracts a lot of attention, particularly from passersby who are fascinated with metalsmithing.  Every time I see it, Donald's sculpture makes me catch my breath and say a silent thank you to him for his generosity.  He must have realized that this would be the last piece of art Ivaan would acquire in his lifetime, and he wanted to make it magnificent.

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