Art is just a stroll away in Marion
Toby Flores of Hays was one of the artists demonstrating his work during the third annual summer Art and Music Stroll Sunday in downtown Marion, blacksmithing behind Gallery 101’s sculpture garden with help from his son, Cooper.
“We came just for this,” Flores said.
Flores visited Marion in March to help with an aluminum casting art project at Marion High School. Art teacher Janessa Wood was a student of Flores’ at Fort Hays State University, where he teaches sculpture.
After helping with that project, he explored the town and met Davis at her art gallery. After chatting, Davis invited Flores to demonstrate his work at the Art and Music Stroll.
Flores prefers to make a mix of practical and decorative work.
“I like to make art, and I like to make sculpture,” he said.
Flores specializes in metal casting, but he learned about blacksmithing during his graduate studies at Southern Illinois University.
Cooper Flores said one of the challenges of blacksmithing is that the iron can get hot enough to melt if you don’t pay close enough attention to it. He said that has happened to him a couple of times while he has been learning.
Flores spent almost as much time interacting with people who watched his demonstration as he did on his work. He said that early on in his demonstration, a woman brought a rose made from iron. Forging a rose of iron is an old test of blacksmithing skill, he said, and this was the most beautiful one he’d ever seen.
Jim Higinbotham of Wichita spent time talking with Flores, recounting the heat-treated hammer that he made in eighth grade, and Flores gave him a refresher on how iron and steel can be heat-treated.