Our First “Maker of the Month”: Geoff Davis

Our First “Maker of the Month”: Geoff Davis

Our local community is full of Makers producing one-of-a-kind items, and Nickel Plate Arts wants to highlight their impact in a brand-new initiative: Maker of the Month.

In contemporary culture, a Maker can be anyone who uses their individual ingenuity to produce something, including artists, architects, tinkerers, crafters, artisans, inventors, hackers, and DIY-ers. There is a wide range of talents and products in the Maker world, and we want to celebrate them all! At our monthly First Friday events, meet our local Maker of the Month, hear more about their creative process, watch live demos and discover just how much work goes into their creations. We’ll feature the Maker of the Month’s work in our Gift Shop for the month, beginning with First Friday. These items will only be available at Nickel Plate Arts for a month, so make sure you carve out time to shop and support our local creative economy!

GBD HEadshotOur very first Maker of the Month is the talented folk artist Geoff Davis of 50 Little Birds. A longtime Noblesville resident, Geoff lives locally, teaches by day, and brings all sorts of creatures and inventions to life by night. Interesting tidbit: Geoff’s studio was once contained within our Judge Stone House gallery space! We got to know Geoff a bit better – read on:

Describe your work:

“Using wood, tinplate and leather I carve, construct and paint whimsical birds and animals in a folk art style.”

How did you get started in this craft?

“I’ve been making, designing and building things my entire life. Over the years I’ve had success building things of wood — boats, ukuleles and furniture. In 2004 I became involved with Traditional Arts Indiana — the public folklore outreach at I.U. Many of the folks that were involved with TAI were practicing traditional arts associated with family traditions and heritage. In response I turned to my Pennsylvania German roots and began to study the important carvers like Schimmel and Schtockschnitzler Simmons. Their work inspired me, but I never wanted to copy their styles. In order to develop my own strong and consistent style I established a set of rules dictating materials and approach. I still follow those today. My bird carvings quickly became successful and I established a strong following quickly. Since then I’ve moved into other carvings and materials. My focus today is on early pull toys. In addition to wood I use a great deal of painted leather and formed tinplate.”

What excited you about what you do?

“My work is unique. I developed a truly unique style. Within my self imposed restrictions I am free to experiment and play. My pull toy series and automated pieces are so exciting. I love to engineer the mechanical means to bring my works to life!”

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What makes your work unique?

“I draw from many early traditions of wood working and metal forming and leatherwork and combine them in and authentic and unique way. The aesthetic of my work feels 100 years old — but I am the only one to put them together in this way.”

Geoff’s work will be on display in our Judge Stone House gallery space through the end of March – come in and marvel at his winsome handiworks during our normal gallery hours: Wednesday – Friday from noon – 5pm and Saturday from 10am – 5pm.

Rachael O'Dell
rodell@nickelplatearts.org