Seeing Metal Art in a Whole New Light

When artists see everyday objects, they envision things we would never dream of – take a 5-gallon steel pail, for instance. When Susan Durazo sees a 5-gallon pail, she imagines how it would look as a light fixture – intricately sculpted so light can flow through a fanciful array of colorful flowers, shedding delicate shadows on the surrounding walls and ceiling. A widely acclaimed metal artist working in Palm Springs, CA, Durazo sees beauty in all kinds of metal, even tin cans.

 “My mind goes 60 mph when I’m thinking of new ideas,” Durazo explained. She designs in her head and translates her ideas, free-hand, onto each of her metal creations. Groups of fascinated by-standers gather at her breath-taking, 20- foot booth at art fairs. In fact, exhibiting at the renowned Palm Springs Village Fest for the past 16 years has accustomed her to working while surrounded by her admirers. Motifs with turtles, angels, bees, butterflies, palm trees – you name it, Durazo will create it. Each piece she produces, sculpted adeptly with her oxy-acetylene torch, is unique.

Always a scribbler and doodler, but too modest to call herself an artist at that point, Durazo came across a remarkable metal sculptor at an art festival in Tucson, AZ fifteen years ago. Intrigued by his exacting use of the oxy-acetylene torch with its tanks of oxygen and fuel, she watched his technique and instinctively knew what she would do if she had that torch in her hand. She considered the idea of becoming a metal artist herself, and a year later, he offered to sell her his business. Though she couldn’t afford his asking price, she decided to offer him a 1-carat diamond she had been saving for a “rainy day,” or for the opportunity of a lifetime. She’s never looked back.

“Recycling metal into something useful and artistic now plays a huge part in the creative process I’m so passionate about,” Durazo explained.  In fact, countless individuals bring her loads of metal cans, and a major recycling company sends her metal that’s already been cleaned and washed, so she can transform each piece into a beautiful new object.

“When I started, men would come by and ask me what I was doing with such a dangerous torch,” Durazo chuckled.  Today, after creating and selling thousands of her pieces, Durazo is pleased to also work with clients who commission her to design large metal light fixtures or sculptures for a particular space in their home or business.

For instance, the exclusive San Giuliano Hotel in Palm Springs features Durazo’s sculptures in their lavishly furnished haciendas. Her remarkable metal creations bring evocative light to private patios with personal hot tubs and outdoor living spaces.

“There are so many details to think about before I make that first cut in the metal,” she added.  But once you see Durazo’s work, you will see tin cans and steel pails in a whole new light.