Tag Archives: Belt Buckles

Canada150 in Kingston Discover How Iron Art is Celebrating

We asked Ontario designers Robert & Lisa Aucoin of Iron Art about their plans for July 1st, Canada’s birthday – Canada150.

With everything going on in the world, this celebration has made us think about how thankful we are to be in a country at peace, with freedoms other countries don’t have. There is so much beauty within one nation, and so unique from one coast to the other. You may never be able to explore it all. There is always something in nature to be inspired by as an artist in Canada.  We are thankful to be Canadian artists, living and working in this country.
How will you celebrate the holiday weekend?
We will be celebrating at an art show in Kingston Ontario, the former capital city. Every Canada Day we take part in the Artfest Kingston show which is full of fun for the entire family.  Artists from all over Ontario and beyond participate at the event.
Iron Art RAW COPPER INUKSHUK
What is your birthday gift to Canada?

As a Canadian symbol, I love the Inukshuk. I think it would make a great gift for anyone. I have also been making Canadian Maple Leafs (photo above) out of copper taken from the Parliament Building roof in Ottawa. If there were anything more fitting to give as a Canadian birthday gift, that would be it.

Shop the Iron Art leather and metal collection.

Iron Art the Design Story Behind is Launched by a Metal Candleholder

In 1993, Robert Aucoin designed and twisted five feet of metal into a flowing sculpture, The Ribbon Candleholder, it was a gift for his wife Lisa and the launch of their company – Iron Art. It is the couple’s shared passion for design details and converting basic materials (metal, leather and wood) into artwork.

Iron Art Candleholder Gift for Lisa

An artist for a lifetime

I started in the arts very young with doodles and cartoons. In public school, one of my teachers asked me to draw political cartoons for the local newspaper.

Iron Art Sketch NATHAN-FISHING

Robert Aucoin took graphic design and fine art studies at Durham College in Oshawa. His artistic learning did not end in college.  He has completed an extensive list of programs and workshops ranging from etching to business communications.

Iron Art Robert's 1st Etching

Where did your work start?

After studying graphic design, I worked freelancing as a portrait artist. Then I secured a role in a company that collaborated with Queen’s University to design, fabricate and weld all-terrain wheelchairs.

With this newly discovered passion for metal creations, I started Iron Art (in 1993) designing and hand forging functional furniture, tables, chandeliers and creating one-of-a-kind pieces.  Next year will be 25 years that Iron Art is in business.

Iron Art Designing legs for Chair

Most of what I do is custom. Therefore, almost everything I design requires a sketch or a working drawing before any welding. I can never say I’m a welder, or designer, or portrait artist. I get to do everything I love all the time, then move on to the next exciting project.

Can you share some of your commissions for clients and corporations?

When Roots opened their Home Stores in Toronto & SoHo, New York, I was asked to create their prototype lamps for the openings.

Iron Art Metal WOVEN BOWL and CHAIR

Iron Art Chandelier

The Woven Deck Chair (below) sits on the end of our dock.

Iron Art Hand Woven Metal Dock Chair

Is there one project that stands out for you?

The spiral staircase was one project that was particularly challenging, only because I’d never done one before.  I’m always looking forward to the next new challenge!

Iron Art Spiral Staircase Rail

How did you get into producing smaller items for fashion and home decor?

When my teenage kids were finding it hard to find unique belt buckles, I went into the studio to design and hand forged stainless steel belt buckles for them. Some belt buckles bronze or stainless steel accents, some are etched with custom designs, others are personalised with monograms. Smaller items such as belt buckles, pendants and cuffs are much easier to take to show and ship worldwide.

Gold-Heart-Stainless-Steel-Buckle-

At the time, I thought it was a unique idea to use an item that others may have discarded.  Lisa and I try to use reuse as much of our dropped metal as well as our leather scraps to create new and up-cycled items such as napkin rings, pendants and more.

Gold-Pendant-Neclace-red-Leather-Strap-Artist-Signed White-coloured-leather-napkin-rings

What other projects have you done with smaller fashion items?

Commissions have included, the Canadian and American 29ers Sailing Championship and the North American 29ers Sailing Championship belt buckles. The winners were thrilled that they could wear their medals (belt buckles) instead of a trophy on a shelf.

Recently, I was given a small piece of copper off the roof of the Canadian Parliament Building. I was commissioned to make leaves (from the copper) for Canada East Short Track Speed Skating Championships (photo below).

Iron Art Copper Leaves

Do you have a preferred metal?

I like working with stainless steel because it’s a clean metal. However, as an artist, every medium I work with is my favourite at the time that I am working with it.

What tools do you use for your work?

Typically, the anvil, hammer and welder are my go-to tools. I make lots of jigs and fixtures for one-of-a-kind pieces and will often have to make a tool for a particular job.

Iron Art Robert Aucoin's Selfie

Tell us about the local arts community?

We are members of the Kingston Arts Council collaborating with many artisans and designers in the Kingston area for years. Lisa works in close collaboration with the Kingston Public Market Board (Photography). We love being participating artisans at the Kingston Public Market, in the summer. It is a chance to meet tourists from all over the world as well as Kingstonians.

Explore the full Iron Art collection here.