Photo Credit: Michael Baez | Daily Texan Staff

Traditional yoga class soundtracks don’t include artists such as Cradle of Filth or Pallbearer in their playlists, but Amy Patton uses them in hers.

Patton started teaching black yoga at Eastside Yoga after getting certified as an instructor. In preparation for her Black Yoga class, she decorates the studio in candles and skulls and greets her attendees with satanic robes. 

“It’s not a religious thing,” Patton said. “Mostly the shock factor of it. The dark arts, which a lot of people who come to my class are into that sort of thing — horror movie buffs, things like that.”

Black yoga, yoga performed to black metal, started when Patton realized there was a need for meditation in the community of people who shy away from the “hippie” parts of yoga. She teaches beginner yoga set to songs she picks out to match her class, she said.

“The people that come to my class are usually the people who would never walk into a yoga studio,” Patton said. “I have a lot of people in the tattoo community, in the service industry, in the roller derby hard-core scene. It’s still traditional yoga — body, mind [and] breath. I just changed the music.”

Patton plans on teaching additional black yoga classes at The North Door nightclub, where she works as a bar manager. 

“I didn’t know how big this class was going to be,” Patton said. “My first class, there were 50 people that showed up. I had to pack the room. [Steven Ross], who owns Eastside, came to the first class, and he’s never seen so many people in a class before. He called me a yoga legend.”

Patton will teach black yoga at 6 p.m. Monday evening at The North Door to promote EyeHateGod, a New Orleans metal band that will have a show at the venue Wednesday. Bass player Gary Mader said he has not tried yoga.

“I meditate, but I don’t know anything about yoga at all,” Mader said. “I’ve always had a quartz skull that I carry around with me. To me, the quartz is almost like an auxiliary for memory.”

Patton said she wants to introduce yoga to people who may not have thought about trying yoga, such as Mader. 

“Having a dark class is helpful because if you go to gyms, you have mirrors and windows everywhere,” Patton said. “This is a very intimate classroom setting. Sometimes I do partner exercises in class to heighten the experience of yoga. That’s one thing that draws me into yoga — the community aspect of it.”

Adam Allmon, The North Door’s general manager, said Patton has helped turn people’s lives around because of how she brings together yoga and metal.

“It’s not so much a common element as bringing two things that vibe well together that don’t match in other aspects of life,” Allmon said. “Whether you practice meditation or not, something about her class leaves everyone in a trance.”

Photo Credit: Grace Biggs | Daily Texan Staff

With a communal love for sombreros, Spanish, chi-chis and Black Sabbath, Metalachi was born under the marriage of mariachi and metal to become the world’s first and only heavy metal mariachi band.

El Cucuy, the trumpet player for Metalachi, said the band members learned to play mariachi first, but were quickly influenced by Black Sabbath. Instead of using electric instruments, they played their mariachi instruments. 

Metalachi, with its roots in Mexico, came together as five men with a simple love for mariachi and hard rock. Now they travel across the country to entertain audiences with their shocking costumes and novel form of music.   

Vega De La Rockha, lead vocals for Metalachi, said that metal and mariachi work well together because people need a little spice in their lives. 

La Rockha said in their case, Metalachi decided to put some of that spice into metal. 

After playing in Austin recently during this year’s South By Southwest, the band members expressed their excitement to play in Austin again and looked forward to their crowd of Austin amigos. 

Playing rock and metal classics such as “Sweet Child O’ Mine” by Guns N’ Roses, Metalachi’s music resonates long after hearing the iconic blend of the mariachi trumpet, violin and guitars with the piercing sound of La Rockha’s vocals. 

While the band’s music successfully creates a cohesive sound and subgenre of its own, some people are still skeptical of the combination of two unlikely genres of music. Typically fans of hard metal aren’t fans of traditional mariachi, and vice versa. 

“On both genres you have many people that are purists and think of it as a sin to change the music,” El Cucuy said. “First, you need an open mind, second, you need the passion, third, you need the know-how and the commitment.” 

El Cucuy said mariachi is great because it is very traditional, but the arrangement of the two genres together is what feels right.

“Metal lets me be free from anger, hate and bad energy,” La Rockha said. “It helps for some odd reason to let all the fear out, and it heals the pain of loss. Mariachi makes you fall in love because it’s fun, but it’s also my roots, my language and what I stand for. It’s a way of life, keeping you gentle, bringing the family together … it’s passion.” 

This passion comes across on stage as audience members become part of Metalachi’s performance. 

“Our fans love to sing along with us, and the girls love to come up on stage and get serenaded,” La Rockha said. “Without our devoted fans, our shows wouldn’t be what they always are.”

Maximilian “Dirty” Sanchez said his favorite thing about performing is watching emotions change across the audience’s faces as they rock out. From shocked, to confused, to enraged, to orgasmic, Metalachi provokes its audience in multiple ways. 

“Our shows are like a big fiesta. We love to be on stage, playing, laughing and soaking up all the chi-chi love,” El Cucuy said. “But we have all people … All together and all amigos singing together, but songs of metal music.” 

Clad in face paint, outrageous costumes, long hair and unusual hats, La Rockha said the sombreros are the most important part of the band’s costumes. Having lost count of how many girls have asked him for his hat, La Rockha said the sombreros are what gives Metalachi its power, much like Samson and his long hair. 

“Our sombreros are part of who we are!” El Cucuy said. “Is like Magnum, P.I. without his mustache, or Lindsey Lohan without her going to jail drama.” 

With it being the 21st century, you would think someone would have come up with the idea of metal and mariachi being played together by now, but it takes a bold group of people to mix these genres. 

“Others would be afraid of what people would say,” “Dirty” Sanchez said. “But we don’t give a shit!”

Customer Kristen Hardin browses the jewlery selection at Leighelena on Guadalupe. The store offers jewlery locally made by owner Leigh Navarro as well as clothing, accessories, novelties, and books.

Photo Credit: Jorge Corona | Daily Texan Staff

A young girl from El Paso, Texas, worships her mother and her enamel artwork. Each day, her mother fuses a thin coating of glass to various types of metal and creates a one-of-a-kind piece of art. 

One afternoon the girl finally gets her chance to try her hand at her mother’s craft. The girl watches as her mother carefully places the girl’s first artistic creation into the fire of a home kiln. The wait for her earrings — turquoise, pearly white and copper — to finish firing in the kiln is agonizing and when they finally come out of the oven, they are much too heavy, dragging and stretching her earlobes as they hang off her. But that does not sway the girl. Her mother’s passion has now become her own. 

Twenty-five years later, that same pair of heavy turquoise earrings sits in a drawer at Leigh Navarro’s home, a constant reminder of how her life as an enamel jewelry crafter began.

Navarro has grown significantly as a jeweler since that first pair of unbalanced dangling earrings. She has hundreds of retail partners today and three namesake stores, the third of which was just opened on March 28 on Guadalupe Street.

The store doesn’t just sell Navarro’s Texas-crafted jewelry; it is full of vintage cowboy boots, recycled clothing, quirky oddities and strange country-themed pieces of history. Her store located on South Congress Avenue is popular for its strange combinations of high-end classic taste and a country twang. Her new store boasts the same twisted style, but a more convenient location for UT students.

“Designing is all about delivering stylish and quality pieces that fulfill a client’s wishes in clever and fun ways,” Navarro said.

Navarro spent many years of her adolescence perfecting her work and slowly becoming a skilled enamellist. She began making pieces for friends and family in her spare time, but soon the demand grew beyond her immediate circle. After gaining experience working at Bergdorf Goodman and Saks Fifth Avenue, she decided to take a risky leap and start her own business. 

Her adopted combination of artist and entrepreneur, she said, has always been a natural fit. Navarro calls her artistic style a combination of chic, rock ‘n roll, fun and refinement. Her jewelry tends to combine textured leather and geometric statement pieces of either metal or enamel, a result of her Texan blood and big city experiences.

“Out of all her stuff I’ve seen, I think her jigsaw cuff bracelets really stand out,” UT sophomore and loyal Leighelena fan Ashley Lee said. “The leather she uses is so distinctly Texas, like a pair of cowboy boots. But the metal clasp is so bold and edgy. It’s a great contrast.”

The new Leighelena store replaced Cream Vintage on the Drag. Cream Vintage specialized in recycled clothing and offered on-site alterations to their customers. When the store closed, Navarro took advantage of the opportunity to own the location. 

“I have to say, I’m a little disappointed to see Cream Vintage go,” Rebecca Hoffman, UT junior and vintage and consignment store frequenter, said.  “As much as I love Leighelena jewelry, the pieces are pretty expensive.”

One of Navarro’s most popular pieces, the wide jigsaw cuff bracelet, sells for $110.

Navarro said her inspirations and style are constantly changing, but she is determined to keep her products at the same quality level her mother emphasized when she was younger. Each piece is handmade and thus avoids the mass-produced look of megastores. Currently, she is creating a new line of jewelry in collaboration with Nicki Bluhm and the Gramblers, San Francisco-based musicians. Through all the success, she still remembers her roots.

“It’s the gratification of starting with raw materials,” Navarro said, “Picking them out, and piecing them together and then creating something substantial and beautiful.”

Between Batts and Mezes Halls sits a tiny metal sculpture by the artist Willard Boepple. On loan from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the steel sculpture anchors the tiny courtyard, its curving metal pieces waving statically atop a concrete pedestal. Like most abstract sculpture, it is hard to tell what, if anything, the sculpture is actually depicting, and the title, “Eleanor at 7:15,” gives precious few clues. 

Last Saturday, I found myself staring at Eleanor, whatever she may be, along with 10 other sculptural pieces on the UT campus that are part of the Landmarks public art collection. My journey, which took me from the Main Building to the AT&T Center and back again, was part of an attempt to resurrect a Saturday afternoon date, the previous plans for which had been decimated by a look at the far-too-low number in my bank account.     

But, as a presentation I attended last Thursday night by Landmarks external affairs coordinator Jennifer Modesett reminded me, the UT campus has a lot to offer in the way of free art. Could touring the public art collection at UT be a cost-free date alternative to dinner and a movie? In any case, it sounded fancier than a day spent watching Hulu on the couch. I resolved to rope in my significant other and give touring the campus art collection a try.    

Our tour started in the halls of Main on a Saturday afternoon. A few lone tourists snapped pictures on smartphones, but none stopped to admire the two works of art my date and I visited in the tower. I don’t blame them: I barely noticed them myself.     

The first, “Harmonious Triad,” by Beverly Pepper, sits just inside the double doors of the Main Building. Like most of the sculptures featured in the Landmarks collection, the sculpture is abstract, and like many of the pieces, it is made entirely of metal. Upstairs in the Life Sciences Library, the striated marble of Walter Dusenbery’s “Pedogna” prompted a healthy debate between my date and I over which sculpture fit which space better. So far, so good. 

At “Eleanor at 7:15,” my date and I ran into the first potential problem with viewing public art: it may put you in another person’s campus hideaway. As we took guesses as to what Eleanor could represent (I said vagina, the landmarks application said a young child and my date remained purposefully noncommittal), I kept glancing at the lone guy reading by the base of the statue, hoping that our Saturday recreation wasn’t disturbing his. We ran into the same problem viewing the Landmarks piece in the AT&T Center, where we looked decidedly out of place roaming the courtyard while actual guests with actual cash on hand chatted with
the concierge.     

Our self-guided tour ended with the six Landmarks works housed in and around the PCL, not because we had viewed all of the pieces on campus (there are more than two dozen of them) but because the setting sun and a nagging laziness kept us from wanting to walk to the pieces housed in Bass Concert Hall. In the back reading room of the PCL, fluorescent lighting, torn magazine copies and students munching on fast food surrounded three haunting, hulking sculptures by the artist Seymour Lipton. The art, though intriguing and beautiful, was clearly not a priority for the students in the PCL, and my date and I couldn’t help but be brought down by the scene of students studying on a Saturday. 

The end verdict? Cruising campus saved us cash, but trudging through the Forty Acres with a map and an agenda felt like attending class. The Landmarks collection has some beautiful art, but it’s best enjoyed in a quiet moment between classes. Next time you see Eleanor, tell her I said hello — but don’t visit her for a date night. 

Marilyn Manson is back and better than ever on Born Villain, the follow-up to 2009’s The High End of Low. The album is packed with dark lyrical content and heavy, distorted riffs, both staples of Manson’s music. (Photo via Marilyn Manson’s official website).

Having been quiet since 2009’s The High End of Low, alternative metal’s prince of darkness Marilyn Manson returns with Born Villain.

Like Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor, there is a beauty in Manson’s corrupt and tainted mind, painting stomach-churning pictures that are not for the faint of heart. Having originally found success during the rise and popularity of nu metal, Manson distanced himself from that movement, preferring alternative metal anguish over cookie monster-sounding raps. Manson’s balance of thought-provoking visual and lyrical content has greatly contributed to the artist’s success. His longevity is due to how unrestrained he his in his art, saying and doing whatever he pleases since his inception back in 1994.

This continues to be the case even now. Prior to Born Villain’s release, Manson, alongside director Shia LaBeouf (Yes, the Shia LaBeouf) created the album’s teaser trailer. A combination of sexual fetishes, punishment and judgment, the video’s dark and sinister atmosphere means only one thing: Manson is back.

And the album is truly a testament to that. Single “No Reflection” chugs with dark, industrial rock riffs, accompanying its fearless leader. “I don’t know which me that I love/Got no reflection,” sings Manson. His self-loathing indicates that not even superstardom can save him from himself.

“Overneath the Path of Misery” will undoubtedly stand out, even against Manson classics like “The Beautiful People” and “Antichrist Superstar.” “The rape of Persephone was a marketing scheme,” croons Manson. This is what has always made Manson so appealing: He is boundaryless and says the most appalling things defiantly.

There is an intelligence veiled beneath Manson’s darkness which has always been a staple of his music. He’s not just being controversial for the sake of being controversial. There’s a message behind everything, bringing to light the many things (rape, abuse, aggression) that often we are too hesitant to discuss.

The lyrical content is a reminder of why we hate to love Manson. He tells it like it is — and there’s no stopping him.

Unfortunately, the music on Born Villain does become redundant after some time. The grunge distortion and chug-chug-chug riffs do not change much as the album progresses. It acts as a bare minimum for frontman Manson: helping him get from beginning to end in one piece.

Born Villain is a return that will surely please devoted Manson fans and anger his opposers — something that maniacal madman Manson is all too familiar with.

Printed on Tuesday, May 1, 2012 as:Manson returns with signature darkness

Jim Lawhon, a longtime member of the Austin Metal Detecting Club, hunts for metal treasures Sunday afternoon in Cedar Park. “Metal detecing is fun. It’s like fishing. You never know what you’re going to find,” said Lawhon, who has been a detectorist for 15 years.

Photo Credit: Danielle Villasana | Daily Texan Staff

When Jim Lawhon began detecting for metal in his backyard more than 15 years ago, he had little piles of dirt where he had found silver and gold coins.

But after years of patience and many different metal detectors, he has since learned how to cut a perfect half-moon into the dirt and patch it back, training that he mustered with the help of the Austin Metal Detecting Club.

“A seasoned detectorist can locate metal and dig it up, and you would never know they were there,” Lawhon said. “We actually discourage the use of a shovel, since they tend to really tear up the soil.”

The Austin Metal Detecting Club began in 1986 and meets the second Thursday each month as a general get-together. Detecting enthusiasts of all ages and years of experience share stories of recent findings and areas they believe will be good for future hunts.

“You’ll hear [conversations about] everything from politics to rare marbles,” said 20-year metal detector Lee Presley. “It’s just a room full of collectors, a group of people congregating because they love this hobby we’ve all found.”

Every metal detector has a control box that sends out signals at different frequencies; if metal is nearby, the signal is interrupted by a series of beeping noises. Additionally, superior metal detectors have a pinpointer, which gives an approximation of how deep the metallic item is buried underground.

The club goes on group hunts that take place on the weekends and usually vary in location. Lawhon acknowledged the importance of camaraderie to detecting. Very seldom will someone go out hunting by themselves.

“At first, one of the reasons I joined the club was for the people,” Presley said. “I’ve been hunting since I was 4 years old with my granddad. It’s nice to meet people with the same interest as me.”

In addition to the companionship, a few members joined the club because they wanted to give back by volunteering their time to serve the community and hunt for lost items. The search team has a 90-percent success rate of returning lost items.

“There’s nothing like seeing someone’s face when you return a wedding band. Most have tears in their eyes,” Lawhon said.

Despite what many of the club members thought coming into metal detecting, most items don’t require an enormous amount of digging. Instead, they only require the use of very small tools like a flat blade or a screwdriver.

“Most of what you find isn’t over an inch-and-a-half deep,” Presley said. “It could have been there for 10 years or more, and it’s only covered by leaves.”

Most detectors are more effective the wetter the ground is. The moisture gives off a halo affect and makes metallic pieces easier to find than in dry ground.

However, getting permission to even detect has become increasingly more challenging over the years. Most public lands are forbidden, limiting the club members to private lands that require permission from the owner.

“We tell them if there’s anything you want, you’re welcome to it,” Lawhon said. “A lot of times, they think they have something, but they aren’t going to go out and look for it.”

The enthusiasts agree it’s not a hobby that’s going to make you rich and joining for the wrong reasons isn’t satisfying. Presley and the rest of the club members detect for the love of the hobby, in addition to any rewards they may find.

“I grew up with it, but all of this new generation just expects to go out and get rich off of it,” Presley said. “The best thing I ever found was a bullet from the Civil War, and those aren’t worth that much, but they’re worth a lot to me.”

Printed on Monday, October 17, 2011 as: Metal-detecting club unites enthusiasts of unique hobby

Louis Herrera handles a hot strip of metal before shaping it to fit into a custom iron ornament.

Photo Credit: Shannon Kintner | Daily Texan Staff

Editor’s Note: This is the second installment of a three-part series profiling artisans who work with their hands.

The sharp clang of metal against metal rings out of Herrera’s Ornamental Iron Works on a humid afternoon in April. Inside the shop, owner Louis Herrera shapes a strip of iron into a point. He muscles a hammer with his hands to mold the red-hot element, then dips it into a basin of water with a sizzle to harden it back to its original state.

“I work with all elements: earth, wind, fire and water,” Herrera says. “This is the easier part for me actually — working with my hands.”

Herrera uses traditional metal working techniques, known as forging, to create custom ornamental ironwork — from wall sconces to entire railings on mansions in West Lake.

Forging is the process of heating iron to around 2,000 degrees in a bed of pre-cooked coal known as coke and shaping the metal with a hammer, an anvil and various other tools.

“I feel more connected [to the metal when I forge],” he says. “It’s really labor intensive but you are creating something more. You are sticking it in the fire and hammering it and that’s originally how it was made hundreds of years ago when they didn’t have machinery like we do today.”

The Spanish surname Herrera is the equivalent of the English surname, Smith — both originated from trades of which families of the past specialized in. While Smith comes from legions of blacksmiths, Herreras traditionally mastered in iron, their name a derivative of herrería, or ironworker.

“When I hear myself talking about it, it sounds pretty hokey, but our last name is derived from a blacksmith shop, so we’ve come full circle,” he says.

The family lineage started even before Herrera first tried his hands at the trade — it began with his father of the same name. Herrera junior, 53, remembers his father as always being an ironworker.

His father continued working with his hands out of a shop in his home until he died last year at the age of 86, he says.

“[He worked] all of his life. He never stopped working,” he says, staring into the shop as if he could see his father laboring right before his eyes. “Most people that work with their hands, they live pretty long. They are pretty active. And he stayed really busy; he was hard to keep up with.”

After serving in World War II, Herrera senior apprenticed under an iron worker as a part of the 1944 Servicemen’s Readjustment Act signed by President Franklin Roosevelt. He was one of 7.8 million servicemen to participate in the bill’s education or training program after the war and before the bill ended in 1956.

Once the apprenticeship ended, Herrera senior decided ironwork was going to be his lifelong craft, so in the late ’40s he bought land off of Oak Springs Road in East Austin, then in the rural outskirts of the city, and built his shop that would double as his home.

Built into a steep hillside in what is now considered central East Austin, the shop is an urban rendition of the rural escape his father once sought. Although the space is small, roughly 60 feet by 30 feet with the apartment as the second story, it is packed full. Strips of metal, works in progress and a plethora of tools and machinery, including a “New Little Giant” industrial hammer that dates back to 1901, take up most of the ground floor.

Although the land is an autobiography of the life his father built during some of the roughest times in American history, to Herrera, it is just his home and the place he has worked since he was a child.

“I was sort of raised here and I had to work as a kid,” he says. “But there was something I always liked about it, especially with the opportunity because my dad forged metal. Because he did all kinds of metal work.”

By the early ’90s, Herrera senior was unable to produce the work he needed to maintain the shop and make a living, so Herrera junior bought it, once and for all adopting the craft he was born into.

“I had some connection with how hard my Dad worked to take care of us,” he says. “To see him work really hard to start his business and see all of the struggles he went through, I couldn’t see it die.”

To perfect his skills, Herrera studied blacksmithing and metalworking under Frank Turley of Santa Fe, N.M., then under Nahum Hersom, in Boise, Idaho. However, he still credits most of his mastery to his father.

“Before [apprenticing] it was my dad; my dad all my life. He taught me 98 percent of everything I know,” he says. “When I went to these other places, I had a good handle on stuff. It was easy for me to learn and pick up.”

Eight years ago, he moved into the home built above the shop. The home his father built with his own hands. The home he was born in. The home he grew up in. And, now, the place he will continue to call his home.

“I can’t get away from this place, I always come back,” he says. I think I’m going to be cremated and I am going to be scattered here. I realize I came out of the dirt of this place. And I live here now.”

From the dirt that his father broke to build the shop, to the tools that date back to the turn of the century, his work is steeped in the history his father made. A quote written in calligraphy on a yellowed, framed piece of paper that belonged to his father hangs on the wall as a reminder of what iron work is about.

It reads, “A man who works with his hands is a laborer, a man who works with his hands and his head is a craftsman; but a man who works with his hands and his brain and his heart is an artist.”