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Olaf Skoogfors was an artist, metalsmith and educator until his death in 1975. He was born in a backwoods iron center in Sweden, 1930. He and his family came to the United States and settled in Wilmington, Delaware, and later in Philadelphia while he was a small child. He thought he would follow his father's footsteps in engineering. When his family returned to Sweden in 1946, he missed life in the US, returned to Philadelphia on his own and graduated from Olney High School. He continued his education at the Philadelphia Museum School of Art and The School for American Craftsmen in Rochester, New York.
In 1959 Skoogfors established an independent studio in Philadelphia. Shortly after that he joined the faculty at Philadelphia College of Art. Skoogfors felt the most important concern in his work was the technique/means he used to express an image. He worked with assemblages and used imagery from nature. This imagery manifested in texture and surface related to landscapes or sensuous forms of the human body. His intent was to create jewelry incorporating a meaningful statement about form, texture, color, and image. He regarded his jewelry as compositions and the scale was determined by the human body. He embellished his compositions with moonstones and pearls.
Skoogfors often used the lost-wax casting process. He was introduced to lost-wax casting in metal by Ruth Radakovich and Svetozar Radakovich. This process enabled Skoogfors to create more sculptural forms. He also used fusing, reticulation and chasing techniques in his work. Skoogfors referred to himself as a constructionist by inclination – he liked to build directly in metal. He was also strongly influenced by another master craftsman at Rochester, Danish trained Jack Prip, with whom he remained lifelong friends.
Olaf Skoogfors led a distinguished career in the metalsmithing field. Skoogfors considered himself an artist and a craftsman. He had many exhibitions, making his work accessible to his students and fellow craftsmen. The Philadelphia Museum of Art houses, including pins, pendants, necklaces, a chalice and a teapot. He died in 1975 at the age of 45.
Skoogfors' brother, Leif Skoogfors (b. 1940) is a noted photojournalist and documentary photographer.
- "I wanted to design with my hands, to make something I could see and hold. After Moving to Philadelphia, I found my most satisfactory outlet in the silver department at the Museum College of Art." (Craft Horizons, v. XXI, no. 1, pp. 23).