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Monday | 06 June, 2011 | 3:05 am

Fine-art fabrication

By Julie Sammarco

May 2011 - "Fine arts doesn’t usually pay a lot," says Brendan Duggan, owner of GetBent Metal Fabrication, Gravenhurst, Ontario. As a result, he found a job in the metalworking industry as an entry-level fabricator. Today, he applies the skills he learned to one-of-a-kind projects.

Founded in 2004, GetBent Metal Fabrication has become well known for its meticulous attention to detail, quick return and fine-arts background, creating a unique fusion of custom metal fabrication, design and blacksmithing.

"We specialize in one-of a kind pieces. We have a direct communication with our end users, and we work with them together to plan out their project," says Duggan. "Typically, we do a lot of residential architectural details like railings, chandeliers, fireplace accessories, mirror frames and lamps."

After 14 years of designing and metal fabricating for film and television entertainment companies and architectural purposes, GetBent Metal is providing customers worldwide with inventive and original projects. Offering work that uses steel, stainless steel welding, aluminum welding, copper, forging and CNC plasma cutting, GetBent Metal prefers custom, in-house jobs, but the company does business with a variety of industries including trade shows and events, commercial, residential and individual.

"This week I’m working on cladding someone’s kitchen cupboards in copper. And next week I have to build a wrought iron chandelier for somebody," says Duggan. Building custom-made pieces in-house benefits the company by keeping costs down and allows for a level of creative freedom in terms of building and creating on a piece-by-piece basis to each customer’s specifications. That way, he says, "everything we do is unique."

Duggan says a lot of customers come to him with ideas they’ve seen in magazines or online, which helps with creating a general design layout. But some of the same metal fabricating designs have been done over and over again, he explains, and it’s important to be unique. He has created one design, a lamp, that he believes no other shop has been able to get a good grip on--the octopus lamp. The octopus lamp is a decorative steel table lamp forged and fabricated to resemble an octopus crawling along the sea floor.

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"Most of the time we use steel," Duggan says. "We do a lot of copper, aluminum and stainless steel, as well. I like working with steel because I’ve had the most experience there. But we’re developing a love for copper."

Although copper is costly, GetBent Metal has chosen to use it because copper doesn’t require any finishing.

"Any costs incurred when shipping it to a coater is lost along the way. Any savings in material that we would have gained with steel we lose with painting and transportation," he says. "So in a way, it evens out."

Another benefit of working on custom-built pieces in-house is the opportunity to use local material providers. Using a local supplier to buy steel allows Duggan to purchase small runs, which he says, "works well for me because I don’t do a lot of work with the same material," he says. For copper, "I buy from a local roofing company that buys in large quantities."

The fusion of creative skills and the manipulation of metals is not the only thing that draws attention to this company. When asked about the origin of the company name, Duggan replied, "I had started the company in order to get into trade shows for free. When we told people about the name, everyone remembered it, so we thought it was a good name to keep. The first thing, off the top of my head, was ‘get bent metal.’ It kind of stuck."

GetBent Metal has produced items like wrought iron gates, grills, railings, light fixtures, furniture, sculpture, tools, agricultural implements, decorative and religious items, utensils, and bigger projects for television and movie scenery and auto shows. The company also hopes eventually to create a public sculpture.

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