…a fine, empathic view into [Riesel’s] world. – Anvil’s Ring
From Forge & Anvil is the story of one of smithing’s most accomplished, yet little-known, artisans. With this photographic study, writer C. Leslie and photographer D. Hopkins-Hughs have restored Erich Riesel to his proper place in the pantheon of ironwork artists.
The first part of the book tells the story of Riesel’s life. Born in Germany, he came to America at 22 and after working as a cowboy on a number of Texas ranches, his gifts as a talented ornamental ironworker were accidentally discovered by two oilmen who were establishing handsome ranch/retreats on the banks of the Guadalupe River in the heart of the Texas Hill Country. For five years Riesel endowed their properties with beautiful ornamental works that have continued to evoke admiration. In this book, Leslie provides a fascinating description of Riesel’s creative process, from discussing how he got his ideas (dreaming was important), through a step-by-step discussion of the construction of an artwork in iron. The second part of the book is devoted to Hopkins-Hughs’ black and white photographs. In these, she manages to harmonize her work with Riesel’s, giving the viewer a wealth of information about his art. From massive ranch gates to airy railings to intricate chandeliers, Riesel turned out. And Hopkins-Hughs captures masterpiece after masterpiece in wrought iron, creating a legacy that still endures.