When you call Arc-Zone.com Customer Care, one of the friendly voices on the other end of the line is Joanie Butler. Joanie is an Arc-Zone team member that has an extensive welding background, and does some really amazing things with her metal fabrication talents, including fabulous artwork. She also consults on the type of content we feature here on the Carmen Electrode blog. We think Joanie is an inspiration to female fabricators, and and you’ll love her too.
Here’s an interview with Joanie.
When did you join the Arc-Zone team?
A year in March.
What’s your job at Arc-Zone?
Warehouse manager, customer care, procurement, sales, and technical support.
About 17 years; I’ve done a lot of work in automotive exhaust and in metal sculpting.
What got you interested in welding?
I grew up on a ranch in Northern California, and up there, you fix whatever you break. That mindset led me to a job at an equipment rental company as a teenager. I would watch equipment repair techs repairing equipment with welders, and the idea of giving a broken part new life fascinated me.
How and where did you learn to weld?
At 17 at the rental equipment repair shop. After everyone left for the day I went into the back of the shop, fired up their old Lincoln buzzbox, and taught myself how to weld.
What type of welding do you use most or feel most familiar with?
I’m most familiar with MIG; I’m just learning TIG since I started at Arc-Zone, and I’ve tinkered with Oxy Fuel welding as well.
Tell me about some noteworthy projects you’ve completed?
A while back I was an assistant crew chief on a NASCAR sportsman car at El Cajon Speedway; I did bodywork, suspension setup, and exhaust. I also did custom exhaust work on San Diego Harley Davidson’s speed trials drag bike.
Tell me about your art.
I’ve been an artist for 17 years. I started painting, and then moved to found-object metal sculpting. I found my creative outlet with metal sculpting with found objects. The process of transforming a rejected, useless scrap into something beautiful inspires me. I enjoy giving these pieces a chance at another life as part of my art. I’ve had the opportunity to exhibit and sell my work at art events, such as the Clairemont Garden Tour, Art in the Garden at Mendocino Botanical Gardens, and private shows at surf shops.
Please share a career highlight or story of personal fulfillment.
I have been able to take the travels of an artist. I traveled to Italy and followed the footsteps of Michelangelo. I visited the quarries where they took the stone for Michelangelo’s David. I also went to Spain, a very industrial country, where I was inspired by the brilliant metalworking done there. It was the most rewarding trip I’ve taken, and continues to fuel inspiration in my art.
What advice would you give young women interested in welding as a career or hobby?
Just do it! Find your niche and go. Have no fear. You will burn yourself, it will hurt, but the end result is so satisfying. Find a mentor and ask a lot of questions.
We will have more content from Joanie in the future, including discussions of specific pieces of art, metal fab how-tos, and products reviews. To read more about Joanie, visit her website.