Here at Black Hound Design Company, we pride ourselves on the artistry of our team. Harry Burdett is no exception. He brings incredible talents to the BHDC team as one of our metalsmiths. And is the only team member that can claim a reality tv show on his resume, with a stint on the History Channel’s Forged in Fire under his belt.
An Artist in the Making
Harry overcame great odds to cultivate his skill and interests in his artistic pursuits. Before Harry finished high school in Chicago’s southside, he started taking jewelry and metalsmithing classes at Lill Street Art Center, and had to take a train and two different buses just to get to the classes. Likewise, the artistic gene didn’t seem very likely in this family, as his father was the Head of the Physical Chemistry Department at the University of Chicago, and wanted Harry to eventually become a lawyer.
But Harry stayed on the artistic, metalsmithing path, as he applied to the Center for Creative Studies in Detroit. He hit the pause button on jewelry making, and focused on more “practical” arts like architecture and industrial design. He pursued automotive design for a period, but found himself thinking too far out of the box for that industry. “I kept adding weird things to the cars I was designing, like rockets or galactic boosters, so it just wasn’t the field for me.”
After taking a few pre-reqs at a community college, Harry then came back as a craft major- switching away from industrial design for good. “The sculpture studio was right next door to the automotive building, and I kept seeing all the cool things they were building over there,” he said. “So I then knew for sure that I wanted to be a metal fabricator.”
He eventually graduated at the top of his class, and was honored with the Award of Artistic Achievement for his show of mechanical jewelry and short swords at his senior show.
He then was accepted at Cranbrook Academy of Art in Michigan, where he earned his MFA in Metalsmithing. During that time, he focused on more sword work, blacksmithing and architectural iron projects. “Cranbrook taught me the details of Art,” he said. “The way materials work. The way materials move. The appropriate order of operations. What’s fun with Art is coming up with a project and experimenting with different processes.”
“What I didn’t see coming was my love of teaching,” he noted. “I got a master’s degree because I wanted the highest degree in my field, but I really fell in love with teaching.”
Harry carries this passion for teaching with him still, as he has taught blacksmithing and knife making classes here in Denver, and has taught jewelry making at Red Rocks Community College since 2004, in addition to his work at Black Hound Design Company.
A Love of Craftsmanship
As far as his impressive work goes here at Black Hound, Harry noted, “To me, handmade objects are worth more than mass manufactured anything. That’s why I like working here.” He continued, “Craftsmanship is ironing out wrinkles in your soul. Smoothing out moments of weakness in yourself. Moment of laziness.”
Between his vast metalsmithing skills and expertise, Harry is an artist through and through. To him, what makes an artist is the ability to simplify. “Technical skills requires mastery of complexity. Creativity requires mastery of simplicity,” he said. “The best fix for a problem is usually pretty simple. But the search for beauty tends to makes things more complex. As artists, we’re constantly searching for harmony between simplicity and complexity.”
When it comes to design aesthetic, Burdett adheres to a “rough and polish” philosophy. “I like to juxtapose clean, deliberate, precise design with an organic object. For example- take a live edge wood top table. Then put on deliberate, graceful steel legs to match the organic, rustic feel.”
Harry's works can now be found all over Denver. From metal signs, to steel table bases, to architectural ironwork and even parts for canons, Burdett's portfolio is vast and impressive.
Here at Black Hound Design Company, we’re proud and honored to have artists and fabricators of this level of talent and expertise. Tip of the hat to you, Harry Burdett.