It’s a Heat

 

 

It started with admiring outdoor art. Actually, it probably started in 1983 when I first saw “Flashdance,” but that’s digging too deep. Anyhoo, I wanted some outdoor art. Indoor art abounds at the new pad, but the outside is a little lonely. I looked to a painting and found inspiration…

 

 

So I signed up for a sculpture class at a welding shop. I had built myself a maquette made of cardboard and thought it might be possible to finish the piece during the 6-week class. I hoped so at least.

 

 

I got to work and, well, then the US election happened. It was all I could do to make myself go to class. When I got there, the other students were quiet. Maybe we were all heartbroken. I don’t know. Each of us worked on our own projects…

 

 

And we plugged away…

 

 

Once I had cut the pieces for my planned sculpture, I needed to grind them down to remove the ugly coating on the metal. Did I have to? No. I could have simply left the pieces alone and allowed them to rust once outdoors. But I had different plans. And so the grinding work began. Grinding, to me, is a bit tense. As a safety precaution, one has to constantly apply pressure to the on button of a grinder, which wears out whichever hand one uses. And then there’s the body position. I found that holding myself at a slight bent-over angle for so long led to back pain. Not cool, man. And then, as if my body’s tension wasn’t enough, one night I noticed an odd scent in the grinding room. I looked down and saw my hoodie had flamed up from the sparks being thrown by the grinder. I immediately patted out the flare-up, then looked around to see if anyone had noticed. None had, so I went back to finishing the job. Or as much as I could.

 

 

By the end of the session, I had the structure of my piece down…

 

 

But I wasn’t finished. And I knew it. I brought the metal home, hid it away and started my research into metal dyes. That’s right. I wanted my piece to have color. (I figured it would rust, too, but the color would only add to that natural process. Right?) Thanks to the YouTuber, I was able to find a product that looked like it would do the trick. I ordered what I needed and waited. Once the dyes arrived, I knew I had to finish grinding the metal. It occurred to me that I could return to the welding shop and pay them for some open shop time, but when I saw how cheaply a grinder could be had, I decided to just get the tool and finish the task at home. For the record, when the grinder arrived, I considered making its case my new handbag. Yes – I like it that much…

 

 

So. Even though I wasn’t using a 30,000 degree F plasma cutter, I knew enough about grinder sparks to be careful. So I cleaned the outdoor area of leaves and such and got out a fire extinguisher before setting up my work station. I wore all the requisite protective clothing and earplugs and a face mask. I certainly didn’t want to burn down the house, and I surely didn’t want to burn down a Mikki.

 

 

Finishing the job took the better part of a day. But then I was ready to apply the dye. I let it set and then Mister helped me assemble the piece.

 

 

I have to tell you – this was fun. Yes, there were setbacks and disappointments. Yes, I nearly gave myself a belly scar from a spark fire. Yes, it took longer than I expected or hoped. But in the end, I’m fairly smitten with this sculpture. It’s my first. You never forget your first…

 

Weld, Weld, Weld

 

 

Remember when I shared this photo? It’s a cowbell I made in a welding class. I bring it up now because I’ve started a new welding class: Oxy Acetylene Sculpture.

 

Can I please take a moment to extol the virtues of learning? The other day, well, I was depressed. From the moment I woke until I walked into that new sculpting class. My soul and my mind were heavy. When I arrived at class, I told myself to try and be present and pay attention. Honestly – that felt like the most I might be able to do, given my state of blue. So I paid attention. And I tried to process the information being given. By the end of class, I realized that the act of learning had taken me outside my sadness and had freed me – if only for a while – from my depression. Yet another reason for me to seek new knowledge!

 

Anyhoo – we’ll see how this class goes and if anything fruitful comes of it. I’m hopeful. And excited, if you must know. Creating is something I was born to do. When I forget that, or stray too far from that purpose, I become disconnected from myself. Those are hard times. Let’s hope this class helps me be in touch with me.

 

As a treat, here’s a link to oxy acetylene artist Cal Lane’s website. If this chick’s works don’t blow your mind, I don’t know what will. She’s amazing!

D-Squared T-Squared – Week 13

 

 

Okay. So sometimes a gal signs up for something and it ends up being so flippin’ awesome, she can hardly stand it…

 

It all started back in November of last year. Mister and I went to LACMA to see the Calder exhibit. It was too cool for school and we got a little hyped-up about learning to make our own Calder-esque mobiles. After some digging on the interweb, we found a place that offered a class for that very goal. We signed up for an intro class and filed away any further thoughts. No need to focus on it until it popped up on the calendar, right? Well, friends, it popped.

 

This past weekend Mister and I attended an intro to welding class. And it was amazing! Not only did we get to work a little with a MIG and TIG welders, we also got to work with a band saw, an oxy acetylene torch and a plasma cutter. For reals! I thought we’d get a broad brushstroke sort of experience and that would be it. But no! We also got to make something while learning: a cowbell!

 

The class was small (only 5 students), and the teacher – Matt – was great. Molten Metal Works is his shop and it’s primo. I couldn’t believe how much fun I had. For reals. And though I was very, very, very concerned about safety – duh – the night was smooth and without incident. (There was an earthquake, but I didn’t feel it so there you go.) When all was said and done, Mister and I agreed we would like to take another class there. Time and money. It always comes down to that. We’ll just have to wait and see.

 

In the meantime, we each have our own handcrafted cowbells to enjoy. I am terribly biased, I know, but I sure do love mine…

 

If you live in L.A. and are even a little bit curious about welding, I highly recommend checking out this place. If you end up going, let me know how your cowbell turns out!