Can you imagine getting paid to do what you love while helping the environment in the process? That’s exactly what the artists featured in this post are doing. They use their welding skills to make a diverse array of welded art out of scrap metal. Their pieces range from functional to fanciful and take pride of place in homes, businesses and museums. Read on to be amused and inspired.
Kendall Polster, a microbiologist turned welding sculptor, started working out of a garage with a stick welder, a chop saw, and an oxyacetylene torch. Today, he is known as the Weld Guy , an artistic powerhouse selling a wide range of welded artworks that he creates in a 6,000 square-foot shop equipped with all sorts of machines, plasma cutters, rollers, shears and saws. His work, which includes everything from furniture and ornamental gates to happy dog sculptures and whimsical robots, have garnered critical acclaim and financial success. Most of the sculptures pictured on his Web page have been sold, but don’t worry. The Weld Guy is always ready for an artistic challenge. You name it, and he will weld it!
Like Polster, Kurt Hermansen-Jent and Kyle Thilmany use the welding process to create unique pieces of art. However, the artists are very different when it comes to raw materials. You see, Polster uses a wide assortment of scrap metal to assemble his creations, while Hermansen and Thilmany rely on utensils. That’s right, these childhood friends from Anchorage, Alaska run Bending and Welding Spoon Art, a rapidly expanding business that sells an array of decorative items made from cutlery. Tabletop figures, furniture, drawer pulls, flowers, jewelry—if it can be fashioned from silverware Kurt and Kyle can make it. “We tend to think that our main goal for customers is to make them happy,” Thilmany said. “We are not limited to any one thing, so we will do functional pieces to just straight artwork with no real use other than decoration.”
If you’re looking for welded art on a grander scale you might want to check out what’s happening at JRA Welding in Gainesville, Florida. That’s where you’ll find John Andrews and his dragons. Yes, dragons! His latest welded creation is straight out of a medieval fantasy. It’s an enormous dragon with a 20-foot wingspan. The magnificently scaled creature with a distinctly canine face is named Monty after a friend’s late Cumberland spaniel. Andrews pieced Monty together over a 9-month period using a wide assortment of scrap material. Its 7,000 plus scales were cut from shipping containers and other parts of its anatomy were culled from a beer keg, various sized tanks, a light pole, mini plow blades, antique cow drinking fountains, prosthetic hip parts, and a goal post. A life-size dog dragon made from scrap materials. It doesn’t get better than that! “I really love doing the large sculptures,” said Andrews who has been welding professionally for over a decade. “I feel like I have finally found my calling as to what I want to do when I grow up.
For a more in-depth look at these artists and their methods of production, check out the October 2013 issue of the Welding Journal. It’s free for all AWS members. If you’re inspired to make your own welded art, remember to be safe take Kendall Polster’s advice, “Just do it. Get at it and make something. I think people will be amazed at what they can do if they just try.”