Art Created by Fire Celebrated in Royal Oak

Art Created by Fire Celebrated in Royal Oak

(Mark H. Stowers, June 11, 2018)

Royal Oak, MI – This weekend Downtown Royal Oak was on fire. The 24th Annual Clay, Glass and Metal Show was renamed the Art of Fire and was held this past weekend. Artists from around the United States gathered to show off their skills and put their creations on sale for the general public. From pottery to paintings to blown glass, metalworks that were cut, grinded, soldered and welded and much more were on display. There was plenty of food, music and fire dancing thrown into the mix for a creative two-day get-together on Washington Avenue.

Dennis Himes, retired from General Motors, started creating glassworks while on a vacation in Arizona. Along with his wife, Debbie, their Kaleidoscope Illusions, LLC creations features fusing all types of colored glass into various types of functional artwork including Christmas tree ornaments, trays and other pieces that combine form and function.

“We’ve been here several times,” Himes said. “It’s all fused glass and I’ve been doing this about nine years. It’s all done in a kiln and there are several different processes.”

Once his kiln hits 1,800 degrees he starts pulling glass strands and bending them into art.

Up from Georgia, Jake Asuit brought his knife creations for his “Jake 2 Jake Custom Knives” booth. With handmade knives from an eclectic sort of materials, Asuit creates art that is acutely sharp and functional. His fixed blade creations run from $100 to $10,000. He finds materials from just about anywhere that he fashions into art with a blade.

“I’ve been making knives for eight years. I was a stone mason for over 30 years and when construction collapsed I was at a Gun and Knife Show and sold part of my collection,” Asuit said. “But my son said, ‘wait a minute. This is my inheritance.’ But I told him I had to have money to pay the mortgage.”

After seeing his creations sell briskly, the duo went into the knife-making business full time. Now they travel the country with their unique art pieces.

“We got on YouTube and learned how to do it,” Asuit said.

He blends all types of materials into his custom knives – each one a unique creation.

“I use cable, chain, Harley chain, chainsaw chain, timing chain – I’m all over the place. I found a super steel and I wrap the chain or cable around the super steel and forge it all together.”

His handles include material include meteorite, emerald ore, copper ore, mastodon bones, Petoskey stones and other fossils, bones and wood.

The Art of Fire was woven with plenty of incredible flavor as food trucks and booths included mini-donuts, frozen treats and drinks. Up from Zanesville, Ohio – the self-proclaimed Salsa capital of the world according to Matt Harlin – was the Jose Madrid Salsa company with an l-shaped table of salsas that ran the gamut from mild and sweet to melt your tongue scorching hot.

Hardin admitted he wasn’t an artist but along with his three partners they create the salsa in the buckeye state. The fiery concoctions seem to fit quite well into the Art of Fire motif for the festival.

“All of the recipes are original,” Hardin said. “I’ve got very mild to ‘it gives me the hiccups,’” he said. “We’re here every year.”

Blacksmiths were on display with their wares as well as Oakland Community College teaching some basic pottery making skills under several tents. All in all, the rain kept some of the artists limited in what they could show but the show had hundreds of folks walking the streets taking it all in. The event is hosted by the Royal Oak Chamber of Commerce to help bring people into the community and to raise money for the organization.  Learn more about the Royal Oak Chamber at https://www.royaloakchamber.com/

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