Hand Hammered Aluminum Giftware and Jewelry
“From my hands to yours,” is a saying that I mean whole-heartedly, as can be seen through my authentic, hand-hammered aluminum giftware and jewelry. Using engravings dating as far back as the 1930s, as well as my original designs, each piece of aluminum artwork is handcrafted to tell its own unique story.
My name is Dennis Wildnauer and while I am formally trained as a Horticulturist, I developed a passion for aluminum metalwork and since 1999 have been creating hand hammered aluminum giftware and art. Around 1990, I began collecting vintage hammered aluminum pieces. This eventually led me to do primary research into the various early aluminum artisans and was fortunate enough to locate some original dies. Dies are solid steel blocks with various designs engraved into them. When you place sheet aluminum on them and hammer from the back you get an impression of the design engraved into the die on the front side of the aluminum. This is called repousee. My curiosity led me to one day I try and hammer something off of a die and the rest is history. I am self taught and received no formal training, learning through trial and error. Over the years I found and purchased several other groups of dies that I continue to use and preserve.
The vintage dies were hand engraved, in steel, by either Henry Mansfeld, L. Gene Stewart, Steve Adams or A.J. Hoover and are marked Mansfeld by Dennis, Stewart by Dennis, SA by Dennis or AJH by Dennis to honor them. Some of the dies date back to the 1930’s and 1940’s. Items of my own design using various tools, leaves and ferns or my own dies are marked by Dennis. Each piece is also stamped with the Cornerstone Forge logo. Authentic, unhurried hand craftsmanship like this is hard to find today. In fact, only a handful of aluminum artisans are still found in the USA and I am likely the only one creating it entirely by hand.
At Cornerstone Forge I now make many different, authentic hand hammered aluminum giftware items including various sizes of bowls, trays, ornaments and a large line of jewelry including cuff bracelets and earrings. I hand hammer each piece using these vintage steel dies, high quality-thick gauge sheet aluminum and basic hand tools much as it was done back in the 1930’s when the art form began. No mass production or machinery is used as each piece is made one at a time and therefore like snowflakes, no two are identical.
My aluminum pieces are food safe and may be used as an elegant serving piece when not being displayed as a unique art piece. To care for these pieces, avoid using sharp objects on them and simply wipe clean with a soft cloth and mild soapy water and hand dry. Do not put in the dishwasher as the soap will discolor the aluminum. Aluminum will not tarnish like silver does so it never needs polishing. By following these instructions they will give you years of service and pleasure. I hope that you will enjoy their ageless charm as much as I enjoyed creating them for you.