Ryan Schmidt’s fine art stainless steel sculptures are instantly recognizable, sweeping upwards and out into sleek curves, arcs and lines, and capturing the reflections of the surrounding landscapes.. The sculptures are polished with a mirror-finish, catching the sun, clouds and movement around them, and inspiring the viewer with new discoveries every day.

Ryan is such a master at his craft, one might assume steel sculptures have been his focus all along. But his artistic journey actually began in grade school when he became fascinated by the process of creating origami. Ryan liked working with his hands to create something out of nothing. He pursued the study of art, and spent time sketching, painting, and doing photography and printmaking, before eventually finding sculpture.

Today his works are featured all across the world and art lovers from all walks of life remain intrigued by how such sculptures are possible to make. Ryan says he leans primarily on two techniques –– casting with the lost wax method and fabricating sheet metal.

“A direct link between working with origami and sheet metal is working with the two planes –– trying to fold, stretch and make the paper or the metal do something that normally isn’t wanting to be done,” Ryan says.

The lost wax casting method requires him to work directly on an armature, or the “bone structure” of what the sculpture will be. From there he applies the clay and the mold is made. That mold is transported to a foundry where a ceramic shell or sand cast is applied on the outside of the wax. Finally, the wax is melted out and liquid metal is poured in at 3,000 degrees. 

For sheet metal fabrication, Ryan sketches directly on metal and cuts everything freehand. He then uses tools like clamps and straps to fabricate and manipulate the metal into the shapes he desires. 

“You can do so much more with casting than with sheet metal,” Ryan says. “They’re both fun, but I would say the clay work is unlimited. If I’m working in clay, I can play with free form, fluid movement and poise.”

If you have yet to experience Ryan’s extraordinary sculptures in person, he welcomes your visit to the Celebration of Fine Art.

“Scottsdale is extremely beautiful this time of year,” Ryan says. “This show is amazing. It’s full of really great artists and it’s a quiet place to come and see good work.” 

See more of Ryan’s story below: