Maegan Crowley is a fiery spirit. She is an artist, blacksmith and educator, as well as owner of Iron Maegan Metalworks in Dolores.
Crowley specializes in creating custom metal structures: signs, sculptures, door handles, fireplace accessories, railings and more. She handles every detail from design to development.
“Although I got into metal work as an artist, I also do a lot of commission work, production and commercial work,” Crowley said.
Her skills and techniques are unique, and each completed project is an incredible work of art. However, she didn’t always know she would be a blacksmith. She discovered the profession through a program at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
“When I first went to college, I started as a classical musician,” Crowley said. “In high school I always had art classes and I loved art. When I got to college, I had a scholarship to go for music, but when I got there, they had an awesome jewelry and metalsmithing program. I didn’t even know you could go to college for that.”
Crowley switched her major to jewelry making. Toward the end of her senior year, her class made tools designed to add texture to the jewelry and she was fascinated.
Mostly self-taught, Crowley became an expert at forging, forming, grinding, welding and finish work. While working as head of the blacksmithing department at Peters Valley School of Craft’s Education Center in Layton, New Jersey, she met her husband, Gene Reininger.
Reininger, though from New Jersey, was living in Dolores. Crowley loved the small town, the people and the landscape. While trying to decide whether to move, she sold some of her artwork. “That was kind of like a sign to go,” she said.
Crowley moved 33,000 pounds of blacksmithing equipment to Montezuma County. While she searched for an open space for a shop in Dolores, she worked for a welding company in Durango. After two years, she opened her shop on Central Avenue. Now, 15 years later, residents can find her sculptures at local businesses, parks and trailheads in the region.
Crowley’s art is influenced by the natural landscape, and she loves the challenge of making metal look alive and delicate.
“I am inspired by plants, but I am not trying to duplicate any specific plant,” Crowley said. “I am trying to duplicate the way they grow or where they are in their life cycle. I don’t see a lot of people doing it. And that is actually what I am trying to do: Make things I haven’t seen before.”
While sculptures are her favorite pieces to work on, Crowley also enjoys helping clients bring their own ideas to life.
She is currently working on a project for a resort in Utah that involves melting aluminum and pouring the metal into a slab of wood. She said the company tried to work with a couple of other artists who thought the request was too weird before they found her custom portfolio. She likes the challenge.
“It’s hard, and I like working hard,” Crowley said. “It’s just kind of part of who I am now, so I don’t know how to separate it. It’s the only thing I know how to do, except teach.”
Teaching comes naturally for Crowley. She was invited to teach at many of the programs she attended as a student, and routinely works with local schools to provide educational experiences for children through demonstrations and field trips.
Crowley is focused on creating a balance between her art, family and work. She wakes up in the morning, drops her daughter off at school and then drives just two blocks to her shop. She lights a fire, turns on her music and creates.
“Success is being creative and being happy,” Crowley said. “I feel happier because I have this creative outlet.” l