Moose Run Metalsmiths
By Randi Jo Gause
Marlon Prazen and Tarri Thurman have welded a love for each other into their passion for metal. Tarri had been working with metal for a decade when she met Marlon, a fourth generation metalsmith. Their shared passion and talent for creating custom architectural designs from copper, brass and steel culminated in a personal and professional partnership in Moose Run Metalsmiths. "Working together is the ultimate for us," says Tarri. "We thrive on each other's energy."
The couple's array of designs demonstrate a tribute to past and present, ranging from door frames and tables to sculptures and home decor. Their artwork is grounded in their inherited and personal expertise in the art form, but they also experiment with modern colors, techniques and design.
Tarri and Marlon embrace controlled corrosion, for example, using acid to infuse the metals with an array of colors.
Lighting, color palette and audience are all things the couple take into consideration when creating custom artwork for homes. "The challenge of designing for particular space and use is intriguing to us. Not only are we concerned with the actual design but the mechanics of the entire piece," says Tarri.
"Everywhere we go we see potential for metal," Tarri explains, fostering the couple's desire to take lessons learned from their masters to the next level.
Garden art is a specialty of the couple, from custom birdbaths to garden gates. Tarri has been a featured artist at the Anchorage Botanical Fair for the past six years.
They have also created an ideal environment to envision and create their masterpieces. The couple's new shop features a generous space filled with natural light. They gained the nickname "metalheads" not only for their talent with metal, but for sometimes making rock music part of the artistic process.
The couple works to ensure the longevity of each piece through a time-consuming finishing process that includes four to five stages of grinding and a hot wax final sealer of marine grade clear coat to protect against corrosion. By the time they are done, their pieces effuse quality craftsmanship.
"Creating metal art is a deep passion for us. To create heirloom quality artwork that will stand the test of time drives us to push the envelope in the shop," Tarri says.
Their work was recently featured on HGTV's Modern Masters and has quietly gained an avid following among artistically savvy Alaska homeowners. In addition to creating custom metal designs for homes, the couple has contributed to several local One Percent for Art projects, including the Homer Public Library, the Homer Animal Shelter and the Pratt Museum.
At the Homer Animal Shelter, brass bull kelp frames the doors while the whips spin seamlessly to the door handles. The effortless flow of the piece masks the challenges Marlon faced in incorporating new techniques and tooling that had to be developed to create the illusion that the kelp was cast bronze.
At the Homer Public Library, the motion and movement and immaculate quality of Moose Run Metalsmiths is on full display. Marlon and Tarri riveted a school of more than 500 copper salmon to an undulating stainless steel river outside the library entrance. The entrance itself is a study in symmetry and ergonomics. Sandhill cranes form elegant looping arcs above handles set low so that even small readers can open them. The entry conveys a sensitivity to the interface between beauty and the human environment that runs throughout their creations.
The amount of pride the couple takes in their work is apparent in each individual piece of metal art. "Whether creating public art or something small and exquisite, we take great pride in our art. It's art you can touch, art you can use – making every day a little more celebrated," says Tarri.