Specifically metal artwork. I have always loved it. It might be because I’ve been around it in various forms since I was a kid but it’s a favorite of mine.
I marvel how some people salvage huge pieces of scrap and create beautiful public pieces while others manipulate tiny pieces into jewelry. Amber Conger of Refinerii does both and everything in between . I think what impresses me the most is that metal artists seem fearless. They don protective clothing, then turn on tanks of flammable gas and move scorching hot pieces around, attaching them to each other, cutting them (with high heat), pounding and shaping the pieces, morphing one shape into another until they have a finished product. It’s amazing!
I’d seen Amber’s work in a park in my town but didn’t know it was hers until her friend, also named Amber, introduced her to me online and I saw more pictures of her work. I thought it was a total score when she agreed to be featured here! Yes, she uses what might be considered delicate pieces in her work but the end results are BOLD.
She is definitely creative and fearless and I know you’ll love getting to know her a little bit here.
Amber Conger (AC): We don’t really have a formal biz mission statement; but if we did, it would go something like this—We aim to provide unique products to forward thinking businesses. From trophies, to signs, to sculptures; everything that we ship out to clients is a one of a kind, creative collaboration created just for them/their event. All our products have a signature industrial & unique “refinerii” look; and this is what drives clients to contact us.
SLL: What is the most creative thing about it, for you?
AC: Coming up with new concepts; especially for the gaming/hacking community 🙂 Creating one of a kind, custom awards is like making small scale sculptures; each is different & tailored to their company/event. Every new project is a challenge; & it keeps things fun & pushes us to come up with new ideas/concepts/materials.
We also take down days to create new products just for fun; some of these have become our best sellers & are fun to work on.
SLL: What are the biggest challenges you have faced?
AC: Working with metals is quite expensive. Getting started in metalwork was really challenging; the tools/equipment are really expensive & come with a steep learning curve. Fortunately when I was starting out my (ex) husband had a good full time job with a steady paycheck that gave me the freedom to take time to learn & grow the biz.
AC: Making cool stuff! Seeing some of my trophies as the front & center of a gaming tournament on TV is really cool. Also; some of the public art projects; knowing that something I created will be a part of a public park for years to come is a really good feeling.
And maybe the best part is making my own schedule & knowing that I am taking care of everything in my little world (including chickens, cats, turkeys, & HH) on my own terms, it can be stressful at times; but totally worth it for me : )
AC: Well…when I bought my first welder; my family/friends thought I was crazy… But, a couple years down the road, I knew that I made the right decision—the reason I went with metal in the first place is this: you can build anything out of metal; from jewelry to a high rise building: there are no end to the possibilities of what you can create… And almost 10 years later, there are still so many things I want to try!
SLL: How do you stay motivated to keep working/challenging yourself?
AC: Honestly, my clients do a pretty good job of keeping me thinking of new ideas. When I’m having a bad day; all I have to do is think about the alternative; could I really go work at Starbucks?? No: the reality of what I would have to do instead really puts things into perspective.
SLL: How do you stay creative?
AC: Each project is unique & we try to create something one of a kind for each client; so that helps to keep the creative-ness flowing. Other than that; I do dabble in other things like jewelry making, creating things for our little urban homestead, gardening & a new hobby of cooking on the weekends:)
Taking some breaks here & there is also very helpful; burn-out is a real problem for creatives: I have learned to set some limits when it comes to work time…
SLL: Where do your ideas come from?
AC: Hmmm; I have no idea, lol : ) Well, in some of my work–it’s inspired by the pieces & parts of industrial cast off things. Most of the time: the ideas are right there; after talking to a client: I know exactly what will work the best. But; not always; sometimes it’s a struggle to come up with the perfect ideas/concept: those projects are really stressful & time consuming: very frustrating… But; in the end, they always seem to come together : )
SLL: What’s your next big thing?
AC: Well; I’m not sure to be honest… For a long time my big goal was to do a BIG public art project; and that is done–I have three 50′ towers in a park in Meridian, ID. As for the trophies that have taken over my life (lol) I’m hoping to work with more gaming companies on crazy creative trophies for tournaments; maybe even more than just trophies…
Thanks for reading and getting to know Amber. I think she’s pretty much a badass. Please take some time to check out her work in her Etsy store and on her social medial platforms where you’ll become a fan like me.
Also, you can comment or ask her questions here or on her Refinerii site.