local weather Click for Sun Valley, Idaho Forecast
 front page
 public meetings

 previous edition

 express jobs
 about us
 advertising info
 classifieds info
 internet info
 sun valley central
 sun valley guide
 real estate guide
 sv catalogs
Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
208.726.8060 Voice
208.726.2329 Fax

Copyright © 2003 Express Publishing Inc.
All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited. 

Friday — February 27, 2004

Weekend Living

Fillingim works
in repousse

Metal artist finds his calling in ancient art

For the Mountain Express

Landscape artists are typically found working behind easels or camera lenses. Twenty-nine-year-old metal artist Blaine Fillingim of Copper Mountain Fountains and Artworks in Ketchum prefers the hammer and blowtorch. His landscapes involve a complicated and painstaking process called ‘repousse,’ in which copper plates are heated and pounded into shapes representing area scenery, totemic masks and wildlife.

Metal work by artist Blaine Fillingim can be found at Copper Mountain Fountains and Artworks in Ketchum. Courtesy photo

A Wood River Valley resident since 1997, Fillingim came to metalworking while fashioning parts for farm equipment in the Panhandle of Texas near Lubbock. "Threshing combines were my first pieces of work," he said in a recent interview. After attaining some skills with shaping metals, he found work with Fountains Unlimited, building copper water features. "These free-standing sculptures took a lot of work, and my boss thought they were cost-prohibitive. But I still make them.

"I had to do some research to really find out what I was doing," he said in his west-Texas drawl. "Repousse was used in ancient times. It was the technique used in the construction of the Colossus of Rhodes, and more recently in the making of the Statue of Liberty."

Repousse, which in French literally means push back, also has a long history in the creation of religious iconography. Perhaps Fillingim is unique in turning this process to landscapes. He cites the work of Wood River Valley sculptor Eric Boyer as an influence in his recent work. Boyer shapes metal screens by hand into realistic nudes, and is represented at galleries in New Mexico and elsewhere.

Blaine Fillingim

Fillingim’s eye and hammer have captured the landscape details of Kelley Mountain, the Pioneers, and Bald Mountain. These features are hammered into relief with a knack for reverse perspective, which is common to lithographers and printmakers. Each piece is colored through oxidation processes, airbrush painting, and then sealed with waterproof lacquer. A particularly eclectic piece called "Mesa Verde" is a combination of cut-copper silhouetted forest, hammered mountainscape and lighted wall fountain. A recent commission piece for a private residence involved creating a functional fire-pit hood in the shape of the Boulder Mountains.

In recent months, Fillingim has fashioned a number of figurative works; from elk, deer and shining trout, to Egyptian Pharaoh masks from his studio at 900 North Leadville Ave., one block behind Grumpy’s Tavern. His work is on display at St. Luke’s Hospital, Chester and Jake’s Restaurant, Zenergy at Thunder Spring and the Coffee Grinder, all in Ketchum. His summer schedule includes a number of shows, including Mountain Mamas in Stanley, and a Midwest arts and crafts show in Chicago.

Fillingim’s unpretentious craftsmanship is making its way gradually into the sometimes finicky world of fine art, albeit through the back door. He recently sold a sculpture in the likeness of Bald Mountain hanging above the entrance to The Coffee Grinder that will soon ship to Florida. Another, named "Voodoo Trance" was stolen recently from the Webster Pottery building near Lefty’s Bar.

"I renamed it ‘Voodoo Curse’ for the benefit of whoever might have it," he said.


City of Ketchum

Formula Sports


Edmark GM Superstore : Nampa, Idaho

Premier Resorts Sun Valley

High Country Property Rentals

The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.