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  • Writer's pictureShea Stanfield

Cycles of Creativity

The Spiral Petroglyph is found in ancient cultures throughout the world. The Spiral, the oldest symbol in spiritual practice, reflects the universal pattern of growth and evolution. This sacred symbol reminds us of our evolving life journey: time cycles, seasons, birth, growth, death, and rebirth. This is the symbol Cave Creek sculptor Paul Diefenderfer chose to represent and memorialize our area’s author, poet, and environmentalist Geoffrey Platts in his piece of community sculpture Geoffrey’s Walk.

Dief, as he prefers, claims to have grown up everywhere, which is no doubt the way he felt as a member of an Air Force family, he moved every 2 or 3 years depending upon his dad's job. Dief remembers his dad for his gift of tinkering, "My dad was a mechanic, so he was always in the garage tinkering around with something; I inherited that trait." The tendency was the foundation of Dief’s creative, problem-solving personality. In the late 1970s, he put his analytical talents into Computer Information Systems at Arizona State University. However, not one to sit around too long, in 1994, Dief started Phoenix Rock Gym, Arizona's first indoor climbing gym. Building the walls for the gym brought together three of Dief’s strengths, the love of construction, structural design, and problem-solving, to create the most challenging courses for his experienced customers.

In 2001, Dief was touring an arts and crafts festival when he happened upon a blacksmith demonstration. He was hooked and Desert Rat Forge was born. Dief took to blacksmithing like bears to honey; he couldn't get enough of it. The process also revealed a different kind of creativity. Dief says, "There is something magical about forming 2000-degree steel with a hammer." Dief found the possibilities in blacksmithing endless by blending his interest in wildlife and desert preservation. The environment around his desert foothills studio in Cave Creek, Arizona provides plenty of new inspiration.   

Today, he is known throughout the community for his work representing the natural elements in the spirit of iron. Dief prefers to design and build functional art versus decorative art. He is known for his 95-foot walkway connecting a client’s house to the parking area on the other side of a wash. Structurally challenging, environmentally sensitive, and visually daunting, Dief produces an inspiring, graceful, and purposeful addition to link a home to the surrounding landscape. His smaller projects include originally designed entry gates, security doors, hitching posts, candle holders, tables, chairs, yard bells, railings, pool fencing, and just about any project to solve a client’s need, with the twist of “only for you.”  If you can draw it, Dief can build it. 

Dief also owns Rope Guy, a company that specializes in accessing high areas in commercial and industrial buildings where sprinkler heads and lights cannot be accessed by any other way than a "rock climbing guy or gal." He is a member of the Arizona Artist Blacksmith Association and a juried member of the Sonoran Arts League. Regardless of your project, Dief will help you reach your goals with a visual artistic flair that will surely be a conversation piece for your space. Call him and complete that long-thought-out project in Desert Rat Forge style.


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