Kristine Watson was nice enough to share these photos of her collection of James L. Bruce’s engravings. She mentioned she was a personal friend of the artist and believes she has the largest collection of his “Living Mirrors”.
I wasn’t familiar with the artist so she was willing to do this post as a tribute to James Bruce and his spectacular work.
Check out his work by clicking on the photos to see an enlarged version.
Bruce seemed to have an interesting artistic engraving method which Kristine explains below:
All etching is individual cuts on the back side through plating, he designed all of his own tools, I believe they were something like dental implements. No sand blasting, different effects achieved through depth of cut. He did the work in reverse laying on his back with a system of mirrors reflecting off the work surface. Photos have not been altered, they are in color taken through time laps and no flash.
NOTE: Plating process on these old mirrors is no longer available in the United States due to EPA standards. A few of the mirrors have copper plating which produces a beautiful copper patina effect in the piece. All mirrors are a minimum of 5/16″ thick.
Kristine also wrote the below bio of Jim Bruce and his techniques used, which was submitted for his nomination into the Calico Character Hall of Fame.
2012 CALICO CHARACTER HALL OF FAME NOMINATION
I wish to nominate the late James L. Bruce, who was the owner of Calico’s Living Mirrors many years ago. His unique style of art brought people from all over the world to see and purchase his living mirrors. This style of art, which he created and designed his own tools to etch with, has been sent all around the world and to this day, there is no other artist in the world that has been able to capture this distinctive style. Each mirror is engraved from the back side in reverse, with some mirrors having more than 20,000 individual cuts at different depths and through various layers of plating to achieve varied effects and shading to produce life-like images. He arrived at Calico sometime in the early 1970’s and did most of his art work in Calico between the years of 1973 to 1979. He was the son of the last territorial Marshal who rode the range of San Bernardino County and he truly lived the life he depicted in his artwork. His one-of-a- kind mirror engravings portrayed typical western scenes with prairies, cowboys, Native Americans, hitch drawn buggies, territorial marshals and assorted livestock. Many large corporations hired him to create large mural type art pieces for their headquarters which included such major companies as NASA, Universal Studios and Santa Fe Railroad. The Steak Eaters, which was a popular steakhouse in Barstow, featured his art in their dining room and when they closed down, they sold their entire collection to Roger & Kris Watson, who were very good friends with Jim.Jim Lived in Calico for a time, in Hank’s Hotel. He loved Calico, the towns’ people and the many tourists that would stop by his shop to view his mirrored art and purchase one to take home with them. Many people around Barstow have his mirrors hanging in their homes and I am sure that every time they look at them, they think fondly of Calico Ghost Town and the artist Jim Bruce. Jim had received permission from San Bernardino County to be buried in the Boot Hill Cemetery when he passed and that is where he rests today; a fitting place for this Calico Artist, who helped to make the West come alive in his one of a kind “Living Mirrors.”
Here are quite a few of his other engravings that she owns. Kristine’s collection is going up for sale. If you are interested in purchasing any of these, you may contact her by home phone here 760-257-3435 or by emailing here at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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