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Fueling the Fire: Chadds Ford Blacksmith Talks Art

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As a teen, Katee Boyle was always drawing and painting. She never imagined where it would take her. See for yourself during the annual “Abstractions” exhibit in Kennett Square on June 4.

Soon after graduating Padua Academy, Boyle was itching to get to New York City to explore her talents. She earned her bachelor’s in fine arts with honors in painting from the School of the Visual Arts in New York, as well as degrees in illustration from Fashion Institute of Technology and The Cooper Union. “My teachers told me to go out and network at night, but I was shy,” says Boyle.

She spent 12 years in New York, working in anything illustration, then took a job as a makeup artist, which landed her back in Pennsylvania. After 11 years, she was laid off,  “so I started painting again.”

About two years ago, Boyle took a welding course with local metal sculptor Stan Smokler. “I wanted to grow my paintings since I work in many disciplines,” says Boyle. She liked the bending of the metal and the torch. She created a few pieces, then included them in a show a month later. One attendee was fine-art blacksmith Rob Sigafoos.

She began an apprenticeship with Sigafoos and a love affair with blacksmithing. They spent four months combining steel, molten pipes and other bits to create the massive public art sign outside Philter coffee house in Kennett Square. 

She and Sigafoos also fabricate functional fine art such as railings and hooks. Her pieces are sold at Shish Interiors, a darling home decor store in Wilmington. “I often think of my utilitarian pieces as a gateway to my paintings and sculptures,” Boyle says. “They are pieces you never knew you needed until you have them in your environment.”

“It’s pretty dreamy that I am able to create stories on canvas and then continue the narratives by pulling elements out of the paintings and create in 3-D form with a technical skill that actually makes the forms look like what they were intended to be,” says Boyle.

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