Love At First Sight
We first met Leah Jeffery at the 2019 Fabtech Expo where she visited us at the Arc-Zone.com® booth and joined Carmen Electrode™’s first women’s meetup. She was sweet, soft-spoken, and somewhat shy. Or so we thought!! It wasn’t until a couple days later when, like a stealthy assassin, she grabbed a few koozies from our display table and began flinging them at unsuspecting passersby. We thought, “Who is this girl?!” and needed to know more! So we reached out to Leah and this is what we learned.
Trade School versus Traditional School
During my junior year of high school, I decided I wanted to do a trade. I am very dyslexic so school was a struggle, and I knew I did not want to go to college for 4 years to get a desk job. I have always loved building and inventing things so I decided to do welding the summer before my senior year after I met a guy who was a welder. He told me about the opportunities he had to travel and stories about his experience. I thought it sounded really cool, so my mom found a college, West Georgia Tech, that offered a welding program, and I signed up to dual enroll during my senior year of high school.
I instantly loved welding. All the instructors were really cool, especially Joe Pennington; he’s a really good teacher and super encouraging.
After my first year of welding I did an internship at Alta Refrigeration over the summer. I worked on the framing crew and learned a lot. One thing that I realized from working there was I need to be in a field of welding that requires problem solving. The company was really great and I loved it, but I was kind of going crazy because I was just going through the steps and didn’t really have to use my brain. Literally toward the end of the summer, my brain was like “AHH!” It was like starving or something.
During my second year of welding school, I had a lot of free time in class because I finished all of my work for that semester the semester before. So, inspired by Instagram, I got into scrap metal art. I really liked it and made several sculptures throughout the school year. I sold a couple of them and with that money, I bought a welding machine. I cleaned out and organized the garage and created a 6×6 space in it for my shop.
Work & Play
After I finished school in May 2019, I started working at a fab shop, Eagle River Forge. It’s pretty cool working there cause I’m working on different things every day. I get to use my brain and solve problems. I work at ERF three days a week and do my art the rest of the week.
Flashback to Fabtech
In 2018, my instructors at school encouraged us to go to Fabtech since it was local. I went the last day and was like “whoa.” There were so many cool things and I didn’t have time to see everything, so I knew I wanted to go to the 2019 fabtech. When I saw that Works by a Hurst and Barbie the Welder were going to be there, I thought it would be cool to meet them. To make it affordable, I found some cheap Megabus tickets and was able to stay at a family friend’s house. Plus, I used public transportation to get to the exhibit hall. I’m so glad I went too, because seeing everything and meeting a bunch of different people was well worth it.
What Leah didn’t mention is that she spent nearly 15 hours on a bus just to get to Fabtech!! We are so glad that she made that trip and came to hang out with us every day of the show. She’s a trooper, a super talented metal artist, and one to watch as a rising star of the women’s welding community!! Follow Leah’s journey and see her art on Instagram.