Janez Vidic is a master metalsmith. He creates sacral objects, chandeliers, and various components of prestigious interior metalwork from non-ferrous metals. His first job was at the metalworking workshop Žmuc in Vič in 1963; later he also worked as a self-employed craftsman. Today he mainly works in restoration but makes sure that not a year goes by without his making at least one ordination chalice. Although the demand for his craft is considerable, he is almost the only metalsmith in Slovenia that creates his projects in the old technique.
Janez Vidic is a member of the Moravče Handicraft Centre.
As soon as he started as an apprentice at the Žmuc metalsmith workshop in Vič he knew that this was what he wanted to do. Patience was something he learned already in primary school, by building model airplanes. He passed his master craftsman exam after three year’s work as an apprentice. During the thirty years of his work in said workshop he worked with notable architects such as Anton Bitenc and Edo Mihevc; later, he also worked at the Tamis company in Mengeš, which specialized in providing metalwork objects for luxury hotels, banks, and even ships. As a “špicmajster” he also worked abroad, because the company only sent its best workers to assemble and install their products for international clients
Not long before Slovenia became independent Janez decided to start his own business. He adapted his house so that it could accommodate his workshop – a small room with a metal working machine, and a larger, bright space with work stations for more sophisticated handiwork. He is proud to have taught his wife Ivanka Vidic the craft as well, and she still works with him as his assistant. Their son Aleš Vidic has also learned the entire production process, but is currently working in a different profession. Known both to architects and designers they have never had to look for commissions, and they also collaborated successfully with carpenters, casters, and other craftspeople. He still takes a lot of pride in the fact that his good work has long spoken for itself, so it has always been others who seek out his services. This can also be attributed to the fact that he is one of the few metalsmiths (perhaps even the only one) who still works using the traditional techniques, although the contacts that he had made during the years have also helped. Now retired, Janez Vidic is still an active metalsmith. He works because he finds joy in what he does. He enjoys working with architects and designers who take interest in the processes and approaches involved in handiwork. He observed this attention to detail and knowledge of the craft when he was restoring and recreating some of Plečnik’s chandeliers and chalices. For him, creating means challenging himself and his skills, something that makes him happy, because it never involves making the same thing over and over again.
ŽThe first stage always involves interaction with the designer/architect, but in the end he has to make a detailed plan for the item himself as well. If any of the steps require a service from another master craftsman, he makes the necessary arrangements beforehand, so that everything runs smoothly. He sources his materials from the nearby supplier. Non-ferrous metals are now being imported from anywhere in the world, and because they all have to comply with the same quality standards their quality is unquestionable. After initial preparations the master makes various templates, which are essential in metal shaping. He makes a template for each item. Manipulating metals is not the only aspect of his work; it also requires some electrical engineering knowledge, as he works on and provides for machines and tools as well. His preferred materials are brass, copper, aluminium, stainless steel, iron, and tombac, which he cuts and bends, and if the item he is making so requires he has to draw and bend heated metal to a model (“drukati”). When it is cool, he heats the material up again. After fusing the parts he polishes them either with fabric discs or with a polishing paste and a grinder. If an item is meant to be gilded, it is galvanized elsewhere and lacquered in the workshop. The scraps left behind are bought by non-ferrous metal suppliers or special companies dealing with metal waste (shavings and large scrap pieces). It takes many “dirty” steps to produce a finished, polished piece.
Today, Janez Vidic mainly restores chandeliers and helps with church renovations, but most of his new creations involve sacral objects, such as ordination chalices, monstrances, patens, and similar. Generally speaking, metalsmiths work on details for luxury furniture for ships, hotels, and banks, but he has seen the trend changing in recent years – today, metalsmiths tend to make products and component parts made of aluminium and stainless steel (inox).