Malone, Wisconsin


David Barnhill began studying mokume in 1999 as a college research project. After graduating from his undergraduate program in metalsmithing from the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh he continued to research better ways of fusing different combinations of metals. In 2006, fellow mokume artist Steve Midgett allowed David to visit his studio in North Carolina. While at Steve’s studio David was able to discuss some of his mokume theories with Steve and in 2007 David began researching solid state diffusion bonding. In 2009, upon  graduating with his Master of Fine Arts Degree from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania, David began the Mokume Layered Resplendence series with fellow artist David Huang. David Barnhill’s work has been shown throughout the United States in museums, art galleries and universities. His work has also been shown three times in Japan and has been sold to collectors in Australia, Germany, Spain and the United Kingdom.


Artist Statement

I’ve always been attracted to complexity in design. Most of my work is created through the intense hardship of getting metal to behave in the manner that equates to the vision in my mind. The patterns and forms that I create can often be viewed in nature as parts of insects, invertebrates, pollen and seeds. I’m often attempting to replicate something real or possibly imagined from childhood.

Simplicity/Complexity, 2019, Fine silver, enamel on copper, 18k gold on enamel, gold leaf, and mokume: etched fine silver and nickel silver, 7x3.75x3.5 in., Courtesy of the artist

These were made while realizing that neither can exist without the other. Simplicity alone can be complex unless something else exists to compare it to.

Eye of the Beholder, 2020, Fine silver, 24k gold leaf, mokume: etched fine silver and copper, 6x6x6.25 in., Courtesy of the artist

I made this piece while thinking of natural history museums. Many small specimens on display under glass or on bookshelves. I made this piece for myself. For my own enjoyment. To me it is beautiful.

Paradigm of Design, 2021, Copper, fine silver, sterling silver, and mokume: red brass, yellow brass, copper, nickel silver, and commercial bronze, 7x6x6 in., Courtesy of the artist

Under extreme magnification most biology shares similar structural/textural patterns. I see a shared designer.