Tradebank Client Ben Caldwell’s Work Chosen By Oprah

By Valerie Hale

This year the phenomena of Oprah’s Favorite Things includes Ben Caldwell, an internationally renowned Nashville coppersmith and Tradebank barter client. Ben has been selected by Oprah to be included in her 2013 List of Favorite Things, which she says “is the ultimate ultimate list of my favorite things.”

Each year Oprah reveals her personal section of products she loves and feels are exceptionally noteworthy or would make great gifts. Chosen from thousands and thousands of submissions, Oprah describes Ben’s work as, “Part utensils part works of art, these hand-hammered copper servers with (naturally shed) antler-point handles can dish out food beautifully or decorate a wall.”

Ben is inspired by his love and appreciation of nature and designs and creates one-of-a-kind timeless serving utensils, ladles, bowls, and trays that are as functional as they are beautiful. Many of his pieces reflect leaves. Some have handles made from the antlers of mule and white tail deer from Montana while other handles resemble twisted vines.

Ben is a copper and silversmith, enamellist and sculptor. In addition to his utensils, Ben creates jewelry, wall art, and sculptures. His one-of-a-kind work is custom hammered, raised and chased by hand with the same techniques used by  copper and silversmiths  centuries ago.

Ben was mentored by renowned metalsmith, Terry Talley, and has been featured in Southern Living magazine and on HGTV.  His art is currently featured in Vanderbilt Hospital, the Tennessee State Museum and the Governor’s Mansion. Ben received the Tennessee Artist Guild’s Emerging Artist of The Year award, and his work has been commissioned as a wedding gift for Amy Grant and Vince Gill and can be found in Martha Stewart’s personal kitchen.

Tradebank International and Tradebank of Nashville congratulate Ben Caldwell for yet another career achievement.

For more information visit Ben’s work can be purchased through Tradebank exclusively from Mudpuddle Pottery, email or phone Sharon Ingram at 615 646-6644 or call Dave Jones at Tradebank of Nashville at 615-231-0022.

A personal post script from Marcy Yaffe

I had the privilege of spending time with Ben in his studio last year while I was in Nashville. His unpretentious studio is tucked away off a busy street in back of old building. The resourceful functionality of Ben’s work environment is as impressive as his artwork.

Ben’s studio is filled with tools and contraptions that mimic his instinct talent for merging form, function and art and was honed from the many years he built guitars. I asked him about all the unique items being used as tables, hanging on the walls, and covering his workbenches. Ben explained to me, “I find odds and ends that have an interesting shape and then project how I can use them to form a piece of art.”

He has an eclectic collection of pipes, stamps, tree stumps, nails, and benders along with an expansive collection of antique hammers in all shapes, sizes and weights. Ben transformed an old boat bollard formerly used to tie ships to a dock into the anvil he uses to shape his copper pieces. When he needed a heat source big enough to fire his large enamel work, Ben built a one of a kind 8 by 10 foot outdoor metal grill, which would be the envy of any BBQ chef!

For me, the behind the scenes processes that go into creating Ben’s work is as impressive as his art. We commissioned Ben to create and present an exclusive Tradebank 25thAnniversary commemorative bowl for each attendee of the 2012 Tradebank International Convention in Nashville. 

Works by Tradebank Barter Client Ben Caldwell