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Sparkle and Rust: Copper Fire Meets Scrappalachian Metal Work

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Sparkle and Rust: Copper Fire Meets Scrappalachian Metal Work


When I first started making jewelry six years ago, I loved the sound of my hammer on the anvil so much that I designed my logo around it. Recently, fellow metalsmith and jewelry artist Amber Crouse gifted me a sculpture by Greg Tune of Scrappalachian Metal Work. Devastatingly, Greg passed away suddenly in October leaving behind a wife and three young kids, as well as an impressive artistic legacy. Since this particular piece is close to my logo design and also bears useful prongs for hanging jewelry, Amber snagged it for me at an art sale of his work to benefit his family. I especially love how this functional hunk of rusty metal stands out from the wooden elements of my display, contrasting with all the shiny, pretty things. It seems to announce what I already know to be true: no matter how much sparkle I make, there is always a natural process at work to reclaim a shiny thing back to the earth.

 “Death is rarely welcomed. For those who grow old, frail and sick, acceptance of the inevitable is, perhaps, attainable. For those who are young, vibrant, at the top of their career, giving to others and growing a family, death is a bitter ending to a seemingly unfairly abbreviated life. Such is the case with Greg Tune.”Knoxville Urban Guy, Inside of Knoxville blog 

The rugged rustiness that characterizes Greg's work is a great reminder to me of the scrappy, rugged path so many artists have walked. I didn't know Greg personally, but the blog post link above and the bio on Greg's website offer some details about the passionate, adventurous artist he was. 

Gregory Tune started off as a welder and metal fabricator, but it wasn't long into his training before he took his skills beyond industrial applications and began creating.
Tune is a Californian native, and started his art career as a side hobby in Visalia, California. In 2013, he moved to Knoxville, Tennessee, and instantly fell in love with the town and with East Tennessee. It was as if he'd always belonged here - and perhaps that's true, as his maternal grandmother was born and raised in Mont Eagle, Tennessee. His art specifically seemed to reflect the taste's of the region, and his use of scrap metal, rusty bits and patina fit right in with the feel of the "Scruffy City."
 In 2016, he began working as a metal artist full time and has since immersed himself in the artist and maker communities. He's the Metal Czar at KnoxMakers, and you can often find him there teaching welding classes and helping to build their metal station. He won the Artists' Choice Award at the 2017 Dogwood Arts Festival, and will be featured artist this year at the Rhythm & Blooms Festival.
Greg was an artist's artist, and it's no surprise that he found a home in the Scruffy City of Knoxville. His whimsical sculptures spark joy, wonder, and amazement – not just for the worlds he created with his imaginative vehicles, human and animal figures, flowers and musical instruments – but also for the way he made the decaying, rusty forgotten pieces of our world come to life again.

If you are ever in Knoxville, TN, you must visit the very large collection of Greg’s work at Architectural Antics, a delightful salvage shop run by Abram Hanford, his father Dayton Hanford, and Greg Patterson. It's a great place to while away an afternoon looking for the perfect curiosity for your home or garden. All the sales of Greg's remaining sculptures will go directly to support his family. May this community always treasure his artwork that speaks to the scruffy, scrappy spirit of this Scrappalachian city.

Abram Hanford of Architectural Antics rocks out with several of Greg's instrument-themed sculptures.