Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Hot and Heavy Metal

Saturday was my second spring taking a day-long welding class through Crossings at Carnegie in Zumbrota. The class is held at Custom Iron, a shop that specializes in creating elaborate spiral stairways and has plenty of space and all the  industrial toys a welding class needs.
Artist Kelly Ludeking, the instructor, telling us about the different types of welding helmets. After a quick group lesson in welding and safety, he guided each of us individually in achieving a decent weld, and we were off!
My friend Katherine had already taken the class 5 times and had no qualms about tackling an ambitious project - a partition wall for her patio.
Katherine’s finished partition.
I shared a welding station with Dale, who was building a large bottle tree. Kelly gave him advice for making sure it would not tip over once in the ground adorned with glass bottles.
Many students brought Pinterest ideas and metal scraps to inspire their projects--such as metal sofa springs to make garden flowers
and silverware for dragonflies and butterflies.
We had access to bins of metal scraps  to use in our creations.  Most of us created garden sculptures.
My first project was a large dancing woman figure (about 6 feet tall, not counting the 18-inch supports that poke into the ground). Custom Iron had a room full of  metal parts, either imperfect or left over from their commissions, that we could purchase at a minimal charge.  Their fancy metal scrollwork and curlicues suggested womanly curves to me.
Next, I  made this large mandala from  ornamental iron scraps, a variation on our Squash Blossom logo (you can never have too many squash blossom images!) It is about 4 feet in diameter and I originally thought it might be attached to our farm gate, but I kind of like how it looks hanging on the house.  I am contemplating  brushing it with color--butternut yellow on the central  flower and verde gris green on the leafy points.
I had also brought a couple of my welding tanks for making painted garden bells (here is a link to a post about bells I have made.)  When I originally got the old welding tanks from a welding supply in Bemidji,  I had a shop saw them in half for me and I was easily able to use the top half of the welding tanks for bells - the tank control apparatus created a hole through the top for  hanging the clappers and my welding friend Mike welded on hangers.  But the bottom half of the bells are solid, with no opening for  inserting a clanger,  and I still have a bunch of them. I asked Kelly if there was a way to drill a hole through the bottom so I could hang a clapper and he said he could weld a loop inside.  I cut a slice of a pipe on the band saw and here he is grasping it with a pliers, to reach inside and weld it to the end inside.
Here he is welding it - I don't know how he could see what he was doing, but it worked!

Then I  welded a scrap curlicue to create a hanger, and found another  smaller curlicue to link it to a support so it hangs freely. I will use an old window counterweight for the clapper. I think this will make an especially  beautiful garden bell when it is painted.

Thanks so much to Kelly, to Crossings and to Custom Iron for enabling us to learn to weld!  I cannot wait until I have my very own wire feed welder (hint, hint, Santa Claus!)

1 comment:

katiegirl said...

How awesome! I did a little tiny bit of welding in a college class I had (Ag Mechanics) and had a blast. Nice work on the dancing woman!