Winged Camel Metalworks
Winged Camel Metalworks is a small metalworking studio located in the northern foothills of
the Adirondack Mountains in New York State, not far from the Canadian border. The studio
has been owned and operated by us, Malcolm and Mary Ann Owen, since 1976.
We work with copper, brass, gold and sterling silver creating clocks and other small objects for home and
office. Most pieces are collaborative efforts with Mary Ann creating the theme and layout of the pieces and
Malcolm working on the mechanical aspects of production. We each also create independent, one-of-a-kind
works: Mary Ann makes jewelry and small sculptures, Malcolm makes large sculptural and decorative
Malcolm loves tools; both to use and to make. He made many of the stakes and hammers that we use daily.
The products created by Winged Camel Metalworks are unique in their design and craftsmanship. Each
piece is entirely handmade from start to finish by us, the artists. The variations in patina and figure
placement are considered desirable and normal thus marking each piece as truly handcrafted.
I was born in Buffalo, NY in 1948. My parents are of a romantic nature and apparently believe that place is
somehow connected with personal satisfaction. Needless to say with that premise, we moved a great deal
and I grew up in a variety of locales, mostly along the East Coast but including a stint in the Alaskan bush
and even time on a houseboat in New York Harbor. I was not unhappy but today I am appalled at the idea
of moving and live in rural upstate NY where I am reluctant to drive ten miles to town.
I graduated from a rural New York high school (1966) and went from there to SUNY Binghamton where I
received my B.A. in philosophy with a specialization in modern"hard headed" philosophy and symbolic logic
Before graduating, however, I discovered in my last semester that I had failed to take a Intro to Art course.
Despite many more credits than needed, I could not graduate. I was properly enraged and swore that the
school would not get another dime.
I took a Summer art course at the University of Maine and went to work as a construction laborer where I
worked up to carpenter status. It was in the mandatory art course that I discovered the works of David
Smith and the combination of a welding shop and "sculpture farm" seemed to me an ideal of existence. I
bought an oxy-acetylene outfit and taught myself to weld. I also made some very bad sculptures.
Gradually I learned blacksmithing and for three years made a meager living doing decorative iron work.
There seemed to be a vast untapped market for toilet paper hangers and shelf brackets but it was a
depressing market to cater to. Interesting work was hard to come by in my local area. I returned to school
at SUNY Oswego, met Mary Ann and began the Winged Camel segment of our lives.
Mary Ann Spavins
1969 graduate Patchogue-Medford
High School, NY
1973 B.A. SUNY Oswego
1975 M.A. SUNY Oswego
I had a fairly conventional, Long Island childhood; beaches, bike rides and train trips to New York City.
I enjoyed making things as a kid and dabbled in most crafts. I first attened SUNY Stonybrook with an eye
to studying art history which I found boring. Then transfered to a community college before ending up at
SUNY Oswego where I discovered a wide range of metalworking techniques. I'd found my medium.
Nothing like a hammer and a torch! Having only been in Oswego for two years I decided to stay there for a
Masters and was fortunate enough to teach for a year in the bargain. Malcolm showed up for his Masters
degree and we got married in 1976.
Our Life Together
We lived in the Syracuse area for the first five years of our marriage. Malcolm worked as an auto body
technician while I pursued a metalworking career. We exhibited at the Rhinebeck fair and started to build a
clientele. The price of silver jumped to nearly $50 an ounce which put our growth on hold for awhile, but
that seemed like a good time to start a family. Our first daughter was born in 1979.
Next, we decided the rural life was for us so we moved to Colton, NY buying 18 acres of land from
Malcolm's brother & his wife. We sold our little house in Phoenix, NY, took the profits and built a garage/
studio with an apartment above it intending to build a house someday. A loan from Malcolm's folks got us
started in business full time. Another daughter arrived in 1984. Since then we've continued on the path
you see us now; artist/ craftsmen creating unique metalwork for the world to enjoy.
We greatly appreciate you patronage and hope our work will endure and be enjoyed for generations to
We live a few miles from the village of Colton, in Saint Lawrence County, NY. Our surroundings are rural:
to the south are the mountains and forests of the Adirondack Park; to the north lies the farmland of the
Saint Lawrence River valley. Colton is within ten miles of four universities and colleges: SUNY Canton, St.
Lawrence University, Clarkson University and SUNY Potsdam , home of the Crane School of Music. The
schools provide an interesting influx of new people to the area as well as lots of cultural activities. About 30
miles north of Colton is the St. Lawrence River which forms part of the border with Canada. Ottawa,
Ontario is about an hour and a half away by car and Montreal just a little further. Canadian radio and
television stations are as common for us as American ones.
Our property is 18 acres of scruffy woods and fields. We frequently enjoy seeing deer, wild turkeys,
porcupines, raccoons, rabbits, foxes and a wide variety of birds. We cleared some of the land in 1983 and
with some help from friends and family built a garage/ studio with an apartment above it. In 1990 we built
a basement with a simple sloping roof intending to build a house above it "someday". The basement
became Mary Ann's studio and the years went by. "Someday" finally arrived in August of 2005 and we
started to build a house above the basement. We are doing almost all the building work ourselves; we're
old and slow and have found it's better not to set unrealistic goals. Like our namesake, we fly and plod.
August 25, 2005
Tearing the roof off the
September 1, 2005
The first floor wall are up.
We have two helpers
working with us.
September 26, 2005
We got all the metal
roofing on in one day,
then the "crew" left. Now
we're on our own!
September 12, 2005
Second floor walls almost
up. The ramp was handy
for carrying them.
Our House so Far
Buttoning up the
outside for the coming
June 17, 2006
All the windows are
There will be a door and
a porch off this side of
June 3, 2006
Malcolm finished the
oak tread stairs to the
The view from our
living room window
Most of 2006-7 was
spent on plumbing,
electricity and interior
work. The pictures are
October 29, 2007
Malcolm, a mason &
helper finished the
We continue working
on the inside. Stay
Where we live now...
60 feet away from the
house we're building
We designed the house we're building. It's
28" square with two full stories; three
bedrooms, two baths, full basement.
Compact, efficient and easy to heat!
Mary Ann is making hand
hooked stair treads. They're
all made of thrift store
jackets. Nine of the little rugs
are finished. Only three to
go, yet there is much wool
leftover. Perhaps an area rug
We tore down an old
house to reuse some of
the lumber. These
beams hold up one side
of the house.
There will be a
here, so we couldn't
put wooden posts
holding up the ends of
the beams. We had
fun with clay and
The finished effect is a
bit odd but fun!
More views of the same project.
The beams were rather wavy so
Malcolm devised a very elaborate
jacking system that took forever
but works great. Not very