Category Archives: New Rosies

Profiles of female fabricators in today’s workforce.

Barbie the Welder, Welding

This Barbie has Built Her Own Dream Garage

Before she earned her place as one of Instagram’s & YouTube’s welding sensations, Barbie the Welder was just a small town girl shoveling snow around her neighborhood to make a quick buck. 

From the time she was 7 or 8 years old, Barbie knew the importance of hard work. Barbie the Welder, Learning from Dad, Welding, Shop Time, Father Daughter“My dad always worked hard to provide for our family. I looked up to him. He was funny, rode motorcycles and always had me by his side when he was working around the house. He taught me so many things and was the catalyst for my love of building things and working with my hands,” says Barbie. 

Although Barbie’s father wasn’t a welder, he ignited her passion for craftsmanship and the satisfaction derived from physical labor. She worked for years as an auto mechanic out of high school, followed by a few years as a metal scrap hauler, but Barbie struggled to make ends meet. She recalls, “It was super tough. You work every day to hopefully make money enough to get you gas to find more metal. I really didn’t have any money, and our family was living in the projects.”

Little did she know that one simple scene would change her life forever.

For most people, the Tom Hanks’ movie, Castaway is just an iconic movie. Barbie the Welder Angel Wings Metal Art Welding But for Barbie the Welder, it was the spark of inspiration that set her on the course to find her purpose and pursue her destiny. Barbie says, “I saw the woman in the beginning of the movie welding giant angel wings, and it spoke to my soul.” For the next nine months, she saved every extra penny she earned from metal hauling to put herself through a $1200, 6 month, 104 hour adult welding class. Without really knowing where they would lead, Barbie began her courses in the hopes of becoming a sculptor. What happened next was a welcome surprise.

“My teacher saw my passion and potential and told me to talk to Kenny at Cameron Manufacturing and Design, a local custom fab shop,” says Barbie, “I asked for $10 an hour, figuring I was worth about $9 and it would give me some wiggle room. So I did all my testing and they offered me $13. I was beyond blown away! After making peanuts working for myself, it was a game changer.”

Barbie the Welder, Under the Hood, Miller Digital Elite Welding Helmet3 ½ years later, Barbie earned enough money to buy her family a nice house with a garage large enough to convert into a metal shop. It took 9 more months to save money to purchase the machines, but the wait was worth it.

She continued to work at Cameron Manufacturing and Design while working part time out of her own shop. But on September 1, 2014 Barbie resigned from Cameron’s and started working full time for herself. She remembers, “It wasn’t easy, but it was a means to an end. I knew that in order to do great things, there is a lot of sacrifice and no instant rewards. It’s long term sacrifice for those rewards.”

Here at Arc-Zone, we’ve identified Barbie as a source of inspiration; what makes her even more real, is Barbie’s honesty and openness to sharing her struggles. If you don’t follow her on Instagram @BarbietheWelder, you’re missing out. Not only does she showcase her incredible talent, but she shares the trials and errors of working with metal. Often, projects don’t turn out exactly how we want them, and Barbie shows us that persistence and determination are really the only secrets to making improvements in our work. Barbie the Welder, It's ok to Make a mistake, Metal Art, Sculpture, WeldingChallenging ourselves and staying committed can lead to our best work. It all starts with personal responsibility.

We wondered who this inspiring woman looks up to. She replied, “There are many beautiful, fierce women in the welding industry that I admire. Jessi Combs, April Wilkerson, and Cynthia Gauthier. Just to name a few!”

What else does Barbie have to say about women in welding and welding in general? Read her responses to our “Rosie” interview to learn more…

What advice would you give girls/women looking to enter into the trades industry?
If it’s what you really love, go all in! Welding has given me good self-esteem, improved my financial situation, and allowed me to create opportunities for myself that I never imagined!

What are the hardest hurdles to overcome in the welding industry?
I feel that getting the education that I wanted, in the fab shop I worked at, was a challenge.

What are your favorite welding tools to use?
My mind is my favorite tool! If it has to be welding, I would say my MIG because it’s so versatile!

Barbie the Welder, Miller, Digital Elite helmet, Welding TableWhat brands of safety gear/apparel are your favorites?
Any safety gear is my favorite because I love my face and fingers right where they are! When it comes to welding, I only use Miller Elite hoods! Super durable and great features!

What do you love most about welding and fabrication?
I love seeing a picture in my head and being able to form, shape, and bend metal to create it. The only limit is my imagination!

Favorite/memorable project?
My favorite project so far is my 5′ tall Sorrowful Angel sculpture

How do you best learn new skills?
I learn new skills by jumping in and trying, I’m a hands on kind of person.

Lastly, it’s pretty cool that your career is what some people are only lucky to have as a hobby, what do you do outside of work for fun?
I love to spend time with my family, travel, hunt, fish, and play in the mud! I have two amazing sons, 24, and 13 years old. My younger son started welding with me when he was 5 and went on to design and create his own sculptures but has gone on to blacksmithing and cooking. (I really love the cooking!)

Connect with Barbie or buy her Books & Creations:  

Barbie the Welder, Horseshoe Crafts, Welding Projects

 

 

 

 

Barbies are OK but WELDING is Awesome!

BarbieWelderWhen I was entering junior high school, I had a choice:  Home Ec or Shop (which included welding).  I chose Shop.

My guidance counselor, however, chose otherwise.  “All the girls take Home Ec,” he said.

So like most young girls of the 70s I learned to sew a wrap-around skirt and make jello salad.  Two skills I have never had the need for nor were they a pathway to a good career.

If I knew then what I know now, that  Title IX means schools have to offer the same opportunities to boys and girls, and that learning to use power tools could have led to a decent career, I might have stood up for myself. I would have told that gruff old geezer of a counselor to stuff it.

What I know now is that it doesn’t have to be a choice.  Brittany Kerr may have preferred welding rods to Barbies, but that’s not always the case. We’ve featured many women for the New Rosies column who like girly things, and like welding too.

Whatever your preference, check out this article, “Barbies? No! But Welding Rods? Yes! by Crystal Dey: Continue reading

Congratulations Oregon Tradeswomen!

One of the more active groups in promoting women in the trades and encouraging women to join the trades is Oregon Tradeswomen, Inc. (OTI), an organization founded on the principles that women deserve and can attain economic self-sufficiency through pursuing careers in the building, mechanical, electrical, and utility trades while helping and encouraging the trades industry build up a diverse workforce.

THE HARDWORKING, GRANT WINNING STAFF FROM OTI

FROM OTI:

Oregon Tradeswomen, Inc. (OTI) is proud to announce that on June 14, 2016, we were awarded a Women in Apprenticeship and Non-Traditional Occupations (WANTO) grant to continue our work connecting women with high wage, high skill trades careers through registered apprenticeship.

“Oregon Tradeswomen, Inc. is honored to work with our partners, Seattle-based Apprenticeship and Nontraditional Employment for Women and Oakland, California-based Tradeswomen Inc. through the Women in Apprenticeship and Non-Traditional Occupations program,’’ said Connie Ashbrook, OTI’s Executive Director.  “Many women in our communities are passionately interested in working in the construction, manufacturing and utility trades, but don’t know where to get started.  Our joint efforts to provide women with the education, skills, and connections they need support their access to and success in family-supporting trades careers, while at the same time helping apprenticeship programs and employers diversify their workforces.”

The $650,000 will be awarded over the course of two years. It will fund direct technical assistance work in the Portland, Seattle, and Oakland metropolitan regions, as well as outreach throughout the Western United States.

READ MORE AT THE OTI WEBSITE–>

THIS is great news for women and the for the industry!  We look forward to more good news from the Oregon Tradeswomen.

 

Today’s Rosie is a New York City Bridge Welder!

Not only do we like writing about the amazing women that work in the welding industry, we enjoy reading about other women in the industry!

A Day in the Grueling Life of a New York City Bridge Welder

What it’s like to be one of the few women maintaining New York’s iconic bridges.

Moloney, who is 29, is working as a journeyman and is one of the few female welders (out of a crew of about 100) on the bridge project. She grew up in New Jersey and—thanks to an interest in sculpture—took welding classes in Manhattan’s Chinatown before holding down various gigs as a tattoo artist, freelance illustrator, and café manager. Then she headed to trade school for welding. There, at Apex Tech in Long Island City, she head about the union, Brooklyn’s Ironworkers Local 361. There was a test coming up, and she went for it.

http://www.citylab.com/navigator/2016/05/a-day-in-the-grueling-life-of-a-new-york-city-bridge-welder/481656/

Let us know if you know any amazing women in the welding industry! Or if you are one  yourself!

Welding Scrap Into Art: Arc-Zone PRO Partner Joanie Butler

Joanie Butler welding scrap metal into art at Arc-Zone.com

That’s Joanie under that mask!

You may know Arc-Zone’s Joanie Butler from the phone– she may have helped you put your welding supplies order together as part of our team, or she may have answered a technical welding question for you over email.  When Joanie is not serving as Arc-Zone’s Pro Account Manager, she is working on her metal art.  Joanie is known for taking scrap metal and turning it into amazing art.  She has a fondness for critters, from dogs and owls to starfish and spiders.  Check out her work on Instagram, you’ll be amazed.

One of Joanie’s recent projects was welding up this little bull dog for Aaron Biefer, owner/operator of Bulldog Welding in Holly, Michigan (check out his work,  @BulldogWelding on Instagram).

bull dog welded from scrap

When Aaron challenged Joanie to recreate his four legged BFF #bulldog Owen back in January, she was so happy to honor a pet that was still alive. “I had absolutely no idea my own dog would be diagnosed with an incurable cancer just a little over a month into the build,” she says. Continue reading