Author Archive

Brian D'Ambrosio

Brian D’Ambrosio is the author of “Warrior in the Ring: The Life of Marvin Camel,” available Fall 2014 (Riverbend Publishing), and he is currently at work on biographies of Rastafarian boxing champion Livingstone Bramble and Italian-American racecar driver Ralph DePalma (1882-1956).

Forging Forward

Text by Brian D’Ambrosio  •   Photography by Crystal Nance and Jim Wells

Montana Bladesmiths Rick Dunkerley & Ed Caffrey

Rick Dunkerley is fascinated by the flames of his forge and all of its twisting, searing possibilities. With more than 25 years of knife making practice, the forge is more like an invitation from an old friend. What comes out of it still leaves him breathless.

 “I provide a knife that will be passed down as a cherished family heirloom,” said Dunkerley. “You hope that such a knife becomes an honored and loved piece of art. There is a large collector-base of the Civil-War era, and I feel like that is like what I’m making now, if taken care of and passed down.”

Damascus steel is his favorite step of the bladesmithing process.

“I enjoy manipulating the patterns and controlling the pattern development,” said Dunkerley. “There are multiple ways to accomplish that, bending steel a certain way. I am also looking at it three-dimensionally. I usually have a pretty good idea of what I want in a finished piece. I leave my mind open to what the materials seem to want to be, rather than always forcing my idea.”

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Phantom of Grandstreet: Clara Hodgin

The strange sensitivity of presence. The prickle of aura. The unexplained specter of a protector – a hovering apparition, an unexplainable form of residual energy.

Grandstreet Theatre is one of the most haunted buildings in Montana. Many believe that one of its most enduring and patronizing poltergeists is a woman named Clara Bicknell Hodgin.

“Clara was beloved by the people of Helena,” said Kal Poole, managing director of Grandstreet Theatre. “Many think that she is part of the community once again—in the form of a ghost.”

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Bill Ryder Horses: Metal Artist Welds Scrap into Art

Creativity is always a leap of faith. Writers sit down in front of empty pages. Painters stare before blank easels. Thespians rehearse looking toward empty stages.

Metal artist Bill Ryder’s leap of faith is experimental by nature. He explores his creativity with Smith Corona plug-in typewriters, antique Dromann seam machines, silvery cable chains discovered at garage sales, sheet metal from Pacific Steel, and the curved internal organs of 8 mm projectors purchased from thrift shops. His leap of faith is as much self-exploration as it is the celebration of the torch flickers and vintage portions all part of the process.

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