Inside the artists’ studio
Driving down Barbaree Lane is like being transported to a country road, miles from city life. There are no sidewalks and the expansive lots are dotted with towering bur oak and pecan trees. On this bucolic street, nestled between bustling Ferguson and Garland Road in Forest Hills, you’ll find artist Cynthia Daniel’s home.
Her studio will be a featured on the White Rock Artists’ Studio Tour, which marks its 25th anniversary this year. The home has a busy but carefully curated vibe. Nearly every shelf and wall space is dotted with colorful and eye-catching pieces.
Daniel has always been a creator of beautiful things. It’s what led her to take a welding class 12 years ago at the Creative Arts Center of Dallas, sparking a passion she couldn’t ignore.
“I liked the permanence of it. You make it and feel like it’s always going to be there,” she says.
Daniel works almost exclusively with found and donated scrap metal, and hoards what she can repurpose in a storage area at her house. She has everything from a pile of shovels — destined to be a giant pinecone — to large sheets with cut-out patterns, ready to be molded into something more abstract.
In her back yard, which feels more like the Dallas Arboretum than a residence, all 277 scales of a large metal fish leap out of a pond filled with koi, a steel flamingo spits water into the air, and colorful satellite-dish flowers adorn many of the trees. Farther along is a nest made of chain and rebar that would be suitable for a giant metallic bird, complete with three spherical eggs, scarred by the welder’s markings. In front of the house, a pair of angular giraffes greets guests upon arrival.
The serenity is interrupted by the roar of a torch as Daniel fires up her mig welder. Sparks fly as she fuses metal to chain, forming the head of a snake.
“I don’t plan a lot,” says Daniel, clad in a thick apron and helmet with a protective tint. “I will just suddenly see the piece.”
She works in an open-air studio at the back of her house, with cement dry wall for fire safety. She is often found working on her most widely sold pieces, flowers cut from steel satellite dishes. After she cuts circular petals, she applies heat until she can bend them with her pliers, giving the piece its dimension. Once cooled, the sections are painted fanciful colors to complete the flower.
“The metal tells us what it wants to be,” she says.
Daniel has been on the studio tour for over a decade, and her work has been on display everywhere from the arboretum to the State Fair of Texas. She first discovered the tour, and Barbaree Lane, while living in Lakewood. A neighbor invited her along, and Daniel was surprised to learn seven of the artists lived on the street. Clearly this throughway draws creatives.
The tour began in 1992 when six White Rock area artists opened their home studios so guests could glimpse their creative process. This year, you can visit more than 50 local makers. They allow attendees to walk through their homes, ask questions about the work and see where and how it is created.
“I am normally a shy person, but this is kind of my element. For two days I can talk to everybody,” Daniel says. “A lot of people want to know about the process, and a lot of women want to get to know how to weld.”
White Rock Artists Studio Tour
Oct. 14 and 15
10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
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