What do you get for Christmas for the man who has everything? A welding course, obviously!
My Christmas present to my lovely husband Neil was a two day metal sculpture course in South Wales. Armed with our design ideas, we packed our bags and headed off to Swansea (Don’t go via Abergavenny what every you do, the road works are horrendous). Neil had a lovely drawing he made of a leaping salmon, and I had a sketchbook filled with about 50 different ideas ranging from small things to a 3 panel, 6ft screen! I like to keep my options open! Needless to say, I settled on a project that was actually achievable in the time we had, which was 2 days with Alan Ross of ArtInSteel at Ammanford. My design was based on the stylized faces of my Internet Icons project.
Alan taught us how to weld, and we picked up the rudiments of it in a matter of 20 minutes. However, being any good at it would take years and years I suspect. Alan’s welds are neat and small. mine are large and blobby! Neil got pretty good though.
The light emitted by the welding kit is super bright and you need to have the appropriate head gear on. We learnt a number of different welds, including the one you don’t want to do which is called Cold Lapping – a totally failed weld!
Whilst Neil was welding his decorative features, Alan taught me how to use the Plasma cutter. This is a serious bit of kit and has the potential to be absolutely lethal if you don’ follow the rules. However, I practiced the movement a lot before even turning the thing on, and then went for it.
These leaves are some of my practice pieces from scrap metal. Very wonky, but I did them free hand – no drawing it out before you cut.
Practicing my vermicelli action and cutting oak leaves.
Cutting smooth big arcs is really hard. My lines were definitely wonky, but heck, I did it!
The Plasma cutter slices through sheet metal as if it were butter. You have to keep the business end close to the metal but not quite touching it. If it touches then it sticks and you can’t move the tip, but if you don’t hold it close enough then the sparks fly and there is too much action on the top surface. the cut is not smooth, and the light is blinding. If done well, then all the light happens underneath the metal and you get a lovely smooth cut with no rough edges. I achieved this in one or two places, and had no epic fails, just the odd inaccuracy. Epic fails would have the potential to be really dangerous, so practicing your moves and turning the sheet of metal was really necessary. Alan was on hand to guide me as to the best way to tackle the cutting out sequence.
Completed eye cut out and ready to be welded. Don’t look too closely or you will see the wobbles.
Neil’s salmon ready to be mounted at the end of day 2. (no idea why I can’t get this image round the right way, sorry)
My face components ready to be packed and loaded into the car. I hope you appreciate the effort I went to getting dressed for the occasion and having my hair done especially!
Alan and his pupils and their work. The bits in the foreground are my scrap oak leaves, and a fish I made from my practice scraps of vermicelli.
Two very happy students!
My Face Components in the garden. We can’t put up Neil’s wonderful salmon until the wind dies down a tad – it is very scary being up a tall ladder on a windy day. When the sun shines I should get some good shadows on the rendered wall. I can move the components around if I want as they are all individual pieces.