Pat Flynn and the Pursuit of Perfection

by Metalwerx on June 11, 2014

Salvador Dali said, “Have no fear of perfection, you’ll never reach it.” Don’t tell that to Pat Flynn. He is all about the meticulous pursuit of exactitude.

He admits his workshops can be a bit demanding, but he’s seen plenty of students come away from his classes with a new level of pride and confidence in their skills. “If you learn how to make a perfect sphere, or cube, or cone, that’s saying something. To measure, cut, and work to dimensions is a huge skill to have,” he said.


Pat leads a five-day course, “Precise Fabrication and Mechanisms,” July 9-13 at Metalwerx. Students will tackle a different project every day, beginning with the construction of the three geometric forms, followed by building a box clasp and tube-in-tube locking pin finding.


“Part of it is learning how to see,” he said. “I look at people’s work sometimes and it’s sort of like a square, but not really.” A trained eye can easily detect if something is off by even a half-millimeter or less, he said. He wants his students to be able to see where things go wrong, and how to correct it.

The exercises incorporate the use of flat paper models to reproduce in metal, and improving the skills needed for accurate measuring, careful fitting, and proper soldering. After completing the hollow forms, the techniques are applied to creating the functional mechanisms. It’s not about tricks, he said, but more of a “demystification” of building the box lock or the pin. “Hang in there and work through all the samples and locks, and you’ll have a more confident sense of how to approach things,” he said.


Much of his jewelry is instantly recognizable: iron cuff bracelets dusted with gold, necklaces of hand forged iron nails set with diamonds, the famous heart pins. Functional, secure–and beautiful–findings are a signature element of Pat’s jewelry. You will never find the ‘figure 8’ on any of his box clasps. That’s basically saying it’s a bad lock, he said. He prefers to spend time getting the catches right than to have it return later for repairs. He’d much rather spend his time on production.


He has plenty of work to do, considering last year’s sales were his best ever. It has been a hectic spring as work on a studio addition is nearing completion. Pat’s vessel pieces are more than ever in demand, and he is trying to devote more time to creating hollowware. He once had a big gold cup that he’d take with him to industry shows. He often surprised bartenders by asking them to fill it with beer, then hand over the precious piece to a friend who might need a break. “I kind of miss that cup,” he said, adding that the piece is now in the collection of Yale University.


Despite the anxiety that the pursuit of perfection might develop in some students, Pat sees a high degree of success in the workshops he teaches. “Trouble shoot and problem solve,” he said. “The ones who stick it out will feel proud.”

There are still seats available for Pat’s workshop. Click here to learn more, or contact Metalwerx at 781-891-3854.

–by Yleana Martinez


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