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portrait of Fike

Philip Fike

Fike's interest in craft was fostered at an early age. Members of his family and his friends influenced the development of his interest in the crafts: Fike's grandfather was a woodcarver and violin maker; cousin, Norman Harms, was a painter and a sculptor; Fred Ward, a friend, was a master stone carver and monument maker. From 1943 to 1949 Fike attended University of Wisconsin, Madison. His first metalsmithing training was with Evelyn Baumann. While at Madison, Fike studied with Arthur Vierthaler as well. Fike started his work with niello in 1949 while a student at Madison. Fike was a resident artist at Oxbow, near Saugatuck, Michigan from 1956 to 1957. During this time Fike was introduced to glassblowing by Harvey Littleton in Verona, Wisconsin. Fike later became a summer faculty member teaching metalsmithing at Oxbow in 1964 and taught summer classes through 1967. In 1965 he traveled to Rome, Italy. During this trip he made his first commitment to the fibula for which he is noted for reviving and redeveloping in contemporary metalsmithing. Fike continued his studies abroad on the fibula. He went to the British Museum in London the following summer.

Fike's interest in glassblowing continued. He spent three years, 1969 through 1970, at University of California, Berkley conducting research and training in glassblowing with Martin Lopofsky. From 1970 to 1972 at Toledo School of Art, Toledo Ohio Fike researched glassblowing to a greater extent with Fritz Dreisbah, Audrey Handler and Jack Schmidt.

Fike was introduced to blacksmithing practices in the metals field during a conference in Fort Collins, Colorado. Fike observed a workshop in iron hosted by Brent Kington. Within months of that workshop Fike acquired iron working equipment for Wayne State's metals shop. In 1977 to 1978, Fike took a sabbatical leave from Wayne State. He turned his interests back to the niello technique, particularly the work of 15th century printmakers. He researched niellist, Maso Finiguerra.

Philip Fike taught at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan. His contributions to the field are remarkable. He researched and revived two ancient techniques used in the Mediterranean area, niello and the fibula mechanism. Fike also taught many metalsmiths that are teaching throughout the nation today.