Victoria: BlacksmitHER !

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noid-DSCF4647Victoria Ross Patti has been welding for twenty years, her interest in metal first sparked when she worked as the only woman industrial mechanic at a Water Treatment plant in Boulder Colorado.

“Once I learned I was soon staying after work to practice and make metal sculptures from the discarded parts of motors and pumps from the treatment plant,” she says.

What excites you about welding?

I am excited to see more and more women getting into this field of work, it’s a momentum that is growing and exciting.

What welding process(es) do you use most? or feel more familiar with?

When I was at the water treatment plant I used stick and MIG on various treatment equipment and pipe.  Now I primarily use MIG on steel for my steel sculptures.

noid-DSCF4659How did you train?

I learned to weld while working at the Water Treatment Plant, the guys there taught me.  Then I wanted to learn more, so I asked my boss if the City would pay for me to go through the local vocational tech college classes for welding and they agreed.  After that I became the on-site welder while still an Industrial Mechanic.

What kind of welding jobs have you held?

City of Boulder Water Treatment Industrial Mechanic and welder.  I also worked at 2 local welding shops where we were making railings and other architectural projects.  I call myself an artist now and have had my own shop, Iron Fusion Design for 15 years.

Have you experienced discrimination as a woman welder? if YES how have you handled it? if NO, why do you think that is?

I wouldn’t call it discrimination in my experience.  The guys I have worked with have had a hard time figuring out what kind of behavior is OK and what is over the line, kind of “tipee toeing” around.  It’s a learning process for both me and them.  I’m setting boundaries and they are learning what they are, sometimes pushing them.

How about non-welding jobs?

I also learned how to blacksmith 20 years ago and have incorporated the two processes together in making public art sculptures.  I am starting a new business that spotlights women blacksmiths around the world called BlacksmitHER.com.  It includes a podcast that interviews the women blacksmiths.  Just trying to keep the momentum of women getting into the metal world, like you guys are!  I love your Carmen Electrode blog and what it’s doing for the welding world.

What advice would you give your 15 year old self?

Be confident in what you know, don’t be afraid to make mistakes.  Mistakes give you an opportunity to learn and rise above with confidence and grace.  Persevere through the hard times, they will pass, keep moving forward with the skills you’ve acquired, always expanding them.

What advice would you give young women interested in welding as a career?

This profession is getting better every year for women as far as the number of opportunities.  The tolerance of women in the welding profession is getting better through internet awareness, but it’s not for the light-hearted or thin skinned woman.  There’s good money in it and you should like all aspects of the profession ie: grinding, cutting, measuring, layout, design, loud, being dirty, safety.

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Calavera Catrina (popular figure in Dia de los Muertos celebrations) in METAL!

Check out Victoria’s work (or buy some!) on her website:  http://ironfusiondesign.com

And check out her blacksmithing website where spotlights women blacksmiths: www.blacksmitHER.com .

“Let’s keep the momentum moving forward and grow the number of women entering both professions with resources, awareness and support!” Victoria says.

join us by sharing YOUR story here on this very website, or if you’re a blackshmitHER, over on Victoria’s site.

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