In this week’s artist conversation I had the opportunity to converse with a brilliant artist by the name of Thomas Cressman. Thomas is currently in his 5th year here at California State University, Long Beach and he is majoring in 22 metals. He loves metals and he first became interested in metals when he was a sophomore in high school, he took a metals class. He also had a professor that really inspired him to work on metal and directed him into this program. His high school was located in Seal Beach which is where he grew up. I was surprised when he said that he went to high school in Seal Beach and he took a class on metals there because those classes are rare now-a-days. I chose Thomas because we are very similar. We both love to work with metal, and we both fell in love with metal our sophomore years in high school.
The piece that he was showing us today was called “Living Forms”. In this piece, everything is based off of the ocean, in fact everything he makes is inspired from the ocean. He likes using the ocean because it’s a whole new world out there and he finds it so fascinating. His favorite animal is the octopus because they are intelligent and he just thinks their awesome. He says the scientific aspect of the ocean has always kept him interested as well. To make one piece it could take Thomas anywhere from 1 week or longer than four weeks. The metals he mainly uses are copper, brass, and silver which I could imagine gets expensive. Since metal does cost a lot, what he likes to do is sell his pieces after he puts them in a show.
The process to make each piece is pretty lengthy and takes a lot of hard work. He starts off with a large flat sheet of metal, and then he takes his inspiration and drawings that he has mad of that inspiration and then creates that image in his mind. With that image he cuts out a sheet of copper in that same shape and then he starts a process called annealing which is a heat treating process so that he can work on the metal and form it. After he has formed what he wants he starts doing minor work like hammering the metal and adding texture to it. This is a lot of hard work that goes into his process and one mistake in the forming process could be major and force him to start over. I imagine that doesn’t make many mistakes since he has been doing this for over three years now. During the process he doesn’t like to translate what he is looking at but he likes to make it abstract.
Thomas was a really cool guy to talk to and I enjoyed looking at his pieces. He had a really nice set up and I think it was probably the most professional gallery that I have been to. My favorite piece of his was the “Glossy-Backed Abalone”. The Glossy-Backed Abalone is pretty small but very shiny at that which made it stand out to me out of all the others. I also liked Thomas’ favorite piece which was located in the center of the gallery. The piece was called “Giant Blue Clam”. The piece was really large and he put a lot of work and detail into it. It’s pretty abstract but I could definitely see a clam when I looked at it. Thomas currently does not have a website but if you would like to follow him on Instagram to see some more of his work his username is @Thom_cress6. My favorite piece is pictured below.