November 1, 2005
Jeff and Lucinda Malm who live on a farm near Kulm, ND, have donated an impressive traditional folk art iron cross now on display at the Marie Rudel Portner Germans from Russia Room, NDSU Libraries, Fargo.
In a Jamestown Sun article, Jackie Hyra writes: "For Jeff Malm, a farm accident in 1990 that left him paralyzed 15 years ago closed one door but opened another to the world of art. No longer able to farm, the Kulm, ND, native drew on his experience welding machinery and began making art instead of tools. Malm said he was always interested in the traditional German-Russian art form, even though his own ancestry is Swedish."
In 2003, through the Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Program of North Dakota Council on the Arts, he learned to build German-Russian Iron Crosses from Herman Kraft, an experienced artist from Timber Lake, South Dakota. His first and largest iron cross design has been donated to NDSU. Malm continues to make his crosses for families upon request.
"One of Malm's first crosses sits in a pasture near Mott, ND, where several members of his wife's family are buried. 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 traditonal blacksmith used."
Malm's own designs come mainly from the study of old crosses mixed in with his own creativity. Most of the cross builders in the past could be identified by the style in which they built their crosses. Malm has been using roses, sunbursts and angels as distinctive items in the building of his crosses.
The website for Jeff Malm's iron cross work is: library.ndsu.edu/grhc/order/keepsakes/wroughtiron.html. For further information, contact the Germans from Russia Heritage Collection, NDSU Libraries at 701-231-8416.