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
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).
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 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 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
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
Victoria 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. Continue reading