Category Archives: Welding Art

Welding and metal artists and their art.

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

 

 

 

 

Moving Metal with Bill McCann

Bill McCann's TIG welded bikes

Like many, for Bill McCann the simple desire to build things out of metal is what sparked his interest in welding. He first learned to gas weld when he was 18 at a buddy’s shop in Wyandotte, Michigan. In his twenties he took a stick welding class, which led to a career in TIG welding. Now 70 years young, and retired, he still welds; he still likes moving the metal around. Bill came into the Arc-Zone Ultimate Welding Showroom one day to purchase some supplies, and we’ve seen some of his work on Instagram, and we were so impressed we wanted to find out more.  We sent our own Arc-Zone PRO partner, Joanie Butler, out to learn more. Continue reading

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

Darlene Kerns:  welding her way out of the fire

Darlene Kerns has always been mechanical.  “My dad had me working on cars when I was a little girl,” she says.  In fact, her dad told her if she couldn’t fix it she couldn’t drive it—great incentive to learn. Darlene’s first job was working in an auto body shop.

Metal Artist Darlene Kerns

“Metal art is all I do now,” Darlene says, and she’s been able to make a living with her art. She mainly works with oxy- acetylene because most of the metal she works with is recycled. For anything over 1/32-in. or for functional pieces for structural support, she MIG welds.

In welding Darlene has found an inner purpose. “I’m blessed to be able to bring happiness to people with my metal art creations,” she says.  Darlene is also part of a loving and supportive community; her welding buddies are always giving her scrap metal.  “I think more women would weld if they were given the opportunity and encouraged to. I’m grateful that I’ve had both.”

Darlene says as she creates she is always collecting recycled metal: sometimes she finds the perfect piece for a project she’s working on, sometimes she’ll make something from scratch, and sometimes she finds a piece for another project.  “There are certain pieces of metal that scream what they want to be made into, so I just listen,” she says. Continue reading

Moving Hot Steel

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Jaclyn Davidson at work

Jaclyn Davidson is not a welder, but she does work with metal and solders some amazing jewelry.  She started out working with gold, but for the last ten years she has been working with weathered carbon steel, turning it into jewelry that is showcased in the Smithsonian and the Museum of Art and Design (MAD). Her work has received “best of show” in venues along the east coast, including the Philadelphia Craft Show in 2005. My work received the Verdura prize in 2007. She is represented by Charon Kranson at SOFA.

“My work uses the most rusted beautiful carbon steel there is in the junk yard and it is worn to places of high esteem,” Jaclyn says.

Jaclyn says her attraction to metals began when she was in university.  “The steel thing happened many years after I was selling gold jewelry,” she says, when she had the opportunity to be involved in a steel fabricating shop. “The ease of moving hot steel and the many facets of its personality were so different from pervious metals.”  And she fell in love:  “Big huge in the falling in love with carbon steel was its perceived non importance….one could work with it and not in any way worry about the cost. This was really important for me.” Continue reading