Mapping the body – celebrating 10 years of artisanal metalmaking
FBF MA® Campaign, featuring Metal Object, entitled “<i>A Skeletal Study</i>” (2016)
Friday Lynton talks metalwork, process, and the lessons learnt over a decade of personal and professional growth
Friday 12 August 2022 By Kerane Marcellus
Friday Lynton has built something any artist would be proud of. The metal artisan, educator – and my mentor – has been honing her craft for more than a decade; a career that was forged in the workshop located just minutes from her family home in Brownsville, Brooklyn, where Lynton spent much of her childhood. Owned and run by her father, an ambitious Guyanese iron worker and metal artisan, his passion for what metal can do was, she sees now, directly responsible for instilling the desire to one day work with the medium herself.
We meet at Lynton’s favourite Caribbean plant-based cafe. We’re still in Brooklyn, albeit a version of the borough that’s changed a lot in the three decades since her father first set up his workshop, R&A Ironworks (R for Roy, her dad, and A for Ann Maria, her mum). Over a plate of vegan curried goat and loaded fries, Lynton’s eyes light up as she shares stories of watching her father at work through the visor of the welder’s cap he gave her that allowed her to get as close to the white-hot metal as possible.
‘The smell of welded steel would hit me as soon as I entered the workshop,’ she recalls. ‘If I was really lucky, my dad would be in the middle of welding when I arrived and I’d see all the sparks flying.’ These moments – ‘those specific little field trips to the workshop’ as she calls them – inspired her to pursue the path she’s on today.
Pictured above: Friday Lynton photographed by Verleen Armstrong at Aunts et Uncles
As Lynton began to work with and study metal herself, her focus shifted to where it remains currently – exploring the relationship between metal and the body of its wearer. Today, she creates her own pieces and has a design house, FBF Metal Atelier (@fbfmetalatelier), which celebrates its 10th anniversary this year. They range in size from those that are able to be handheld to others that fully encase the body; individual works, she says, can take anything from two to three months to two to three years to complete, depending on the piece.
‘I’d say that the design process is very organic,’ she says. ‘I use a lot of sculpting and draping techniques throughout. I would take measurements from clients when commissioned for a one-of-one custom fit, but I’ve been using the same dress form to create everything, which is pretty special to me – it’s my lucky form.’
Over the years, FBF MA’s clients have typically included wardrobe stylists, costume designers, musicians and other creatives, with Lynton’s pieces being showcased in editorial, television and film and music videos, as well as worn to galas and special events. In recent years, however, her client list has expanded to include private art collectors seeking bespoke objects for their galleries and homes.
Alongside the metalwork itself, the atelier now produces media via performance art films, exhibitions and events such as its signature FBF MA Metal Dinner, as well as creative education via an apprenticeship and creative residency, which provides opportunities for aspiring creatives and burgeoning metal artisans alike.
Precious Lee in Archival FBF MA® Metal Object, entitled “Rebirth, Pt Deux” (2019); Wardrobe by Dione Davis, Photography by Kat Irlin for LOVEWANT Magazine
Now, at what Lynton calls ‘thirty-won’ years of age, she has a clearer vision of who she is as an artisan. ‘I feel like I belong here. I feel like this feels right. I’m more grounded in my work than in the first five years of the atelier,’ she admits. ‘When I got close to the 10-year mark, that’s when I really started to understand my medium a lot more. It took me so long, but just even understanding that timing and patience were an integral part of the process too [has allowed] it to evolve overall.’
For its 10-year anniversary, the atelier highlighted the top 10 pieces that showed the full scope of that evolution. Her recent exhibition, FBF MA 10YR/10DY, shown in partnership with Soho Works, invited other visual artists, who are friends of Lynton’s, to recreate the atelier’s iconographic symbol in celebration and acknowledgment of her creative evolution.
With two successful exhibitions, a performance art film, and a recent artist residency with Hi-ARTS NYC under her belt this year alone, Lynton has reached a new phase in her creative process. ‘My art evolves as I evolve,’ she says. ‘As I grow and learn things, as I process things differently and obtain a more mature, broader point of view throughout the years, as I age, the art will do so as well and that’s exciting for me.’
If the decade she’s just lived and worked through is anything to go by, Lynton’s next 10 years will be nothing short of extraordinary.
FBF MA® Campaign, featuring Metal Object, entitled “Rebirth” (2018), Photographed by Dee Williams