By S.E. Williams
The skill and artistry of metalworking dates back nearly nine thousand years. The beating of a hot-molten piece of iron requires extensive knowledge and skill.
For more than twenty years Bill Gardner of Creative Metalwork has leveraged his skill and artistry in metalworking to the benefit of the City of Riverside and its residents. Actually, Gardner’s service to the community has spanned two careers.
“I used to be in the city’s Public Works Department,” Gardner shared. “I was responsible for street improvement projects.” According to Gardner it was during the years he worked for the city that he started to focus on the RainCross symbol as emblematic of the City of Riverside. “I started realizing it was a nice symbol and I wanted to incorporate it into street projects.”
The RainCross symbol was inspired by the mass bell of Father Junipero Serra, founder of the California missions; and the double-cross, an ancient symbol used by Navajo and Pueblo Indians for the dragonfly which emerged each year after the summer rains. In Native American culture the dragonfly represents water, life, fertility and sacred power.
Gardner’s idea was accepted by city officials. Since then, those who look closely around town can find the RainCross symbol embossed on street-well covers and various railroad underpasses and overcrossings in addition to skate board barriers and elsewhere.
Gardner has also used his metalwork artistry to create trivets, bookends, key rings, garden stakes, door-knocks, wind-chimes, walk gates and railings, embossed with the RainCross symbol—most are made of steel and some of brass.
The RainCross symbol is unique to Riverside and its use is spreading largely due to Gardner’s vision and commitment. Gardner was honored for his work with the Chairman’s Award by the Riverside Downtown Partnership. It is largely because of his diligence the RainCross is now synonymous with the City of Riverside.
The passion and creativity evidenced in Gardner’s work was sparked when he took his first machine shop class in high school. Whether he is raising the visibility of the RainCross symbol; donating hand-crafted gates to auction for the benefit of organizations like the Rape Crisis Center; or, holding one day workshops on welding and sculptural metal work for those with a liberal arts focus who are also interested in welding, Gardner has beautified the City of Riverside not only with his art but also with his compassion.
Creative Metal Work
5141 Hallwood Avenue