Kulm man makes iron crosses
By Jackie Hyra
Jamestown Sun, Jamestown, North Dakota, August 8, 2005
Wrough Iron Work
of Jeff Malm
|Jeff Malm, artist, Learned to make
iron crosses after being injured in a farm accident.
For Jeff Malm, a farm accident that left him paralyzed 15 years
one door but opened another to the world of art.
No longer able to farm, the Kulm, N.D., native drew on his experience
welding machinery and began making art instead of tools. He displayed
traditional folk art iron crosses at Jamestown's Culture Festival
Malm said he was always interested in the traditional German/Russian
art form, even though his own ancestry was Swedish. Thanks to an
apprenticeship from the North Dakota Council on the Arts, he was
able to learn the folk art from Herman Kraft of South Dakota. What
Malm did not know until recently was that iron crosses were also
a tradition in northern Sweden. That knowledge reinforced Malms
belief that iron working is in his blood. His father and grandfather
were blacksmiths, a handy skill to have on the farm.
I have my great-grandfather's anvil, he said.
One of Malm's first crosses sits in a pasture near Mott, N.D.,
several members of his wife's family are buried. Another is in a
memorial garden in Fargo.
The largest cross Malm displayed at the Culture Festival is destined
the Germans from Russia Heritage Collection at the North Dakota
Malm said he is still learning, perfecting his craft. He is using
less and less welding, putting his crosses together with clamps
and rivets instead.
That is something the traditional blacksmiths used, he said. Its
a traditional art, so I am trying to keep that look.
Malm looks at photos of old crosses to get ideas for his designs,
own are all originals, and he adds a signature piece to each cross
makes a rose, formed from many iron petals.
Its really a creative thing too, he said.
Malm also made some of the tools he uses, like an instrument to
metal rods, and others to create small scrolls and trefoils.
I like making the tools too, he said.
Malm said he feels no anger about the accident that left him paralyzed
ended his career farming.
Im very glad to be alive and thankful for the God-given talent
to still be
able to work, he said.
Malm sells his iron crosses on order for prices ranging from $100
depending upon the size and intricacy of the design. He said it
several weeks to make one because the accident left him with some
in his hands.