Guest Blog: On the Ball with Metal


This week’s guest blog comes from Tom Harold, 44, USA.

There has always been a certain level of creativity in my life, but I guess it just took a long time to figure out the best use for it. My father was both creative and naturally handy with tools, and I learned all the basics from him, as well as his enthusiasm for the work and a desire for quality craftsmanship.

However, after a string of creative jobs, it was on a trip to my local museum that’s sculpting became my passion. I saw a machine there that was full of billiard balls rolling around on wire tracks. The balls corkscrewed upward on a special lift, then rolled and bounced and banged back down to the bottom, where the viewer cranked a handle to operate the lift and start the whole process over again.

I was transfixed. This machine did absolutely nothing practical, and yet it was the greatest thing I’d ever seen in my entire life. It seemed like the most fun and fabulously involved mechanical effort anyone had ever conceived. Then and there I decided I would build one.

My efforts began small, with 10-gauge copper wire. I managed to make my first piece, and it actually worked very well. I was very pleased, and one of my co-workers even asked to buy it.

I worked with copper for a couple of years after that, honing my skills, but all the time working toward the day when I could scale up my efforts and transfer over to steel work. The artists I admired all worked on large pieces crafted from carbon and stainless steel. I wanted to achieve the kinds of mechanical feats they were creating.

weldEventually I built up the courage to take a class on art welding. I was desperate for a welder, and sold everything I could think of to raise the money – including a rare vintage guitar amplifier!

At the time, I also needed a career change, but rather than go back to deskwork, I followed my heart and applied for a welding job. To my pleasant surprise, they hired me!

I spent the next year learning anything and everything I could about working with metal. My sculpting abilities grew in leaps and bounds as I literally welded eight hours a day. I also was able to get hold of lots of scrap metal and now had abilities and material to weld as well!

That year I created two new stainless sculptures and advance very far on a large sculpture commission titled Opportunity. My work was now of solid and reliable quality, and I was able to execute designs that were on the level of many of my idols.

I’m incredibly pleased and proud that others enjoy my work and want to make it part of their own lives. I’ve hardly scratched the surface of my abilities, and I look forward to doing more work and pushing my designs even further.

If you’d like to see more of Tom’s amazing kinetic metal work, you can find him at:


If Tom has inspired you to try your hand at welding, you can find a range of metal and welding essentials such as a protective helmet, gloves, aprons, sleeves and welding rods at our online store here:

If you’re interested in being a Metal Store UK Guest Blogger,  feel free to get in touch with us, we’d love to showcase your work!

Facebook: The Metal Store UK
Twitter: @TheMetalStoreUK


4 Comments on “Guest Blog: On the Ball with Metal”

  1. […] Today the first article was published. It’s a nice little piece that details my general background from youth up until present day, an examination of the somewhat meandering path that got me to where I am now. It’s all original writing, so you’ll see nothing else like it anywhere on my web site. You can click here for my art career post on The Metal Store’s blog. […]

  2. Nice to learn all about your beginnings! Sometimes you just gotta go all out, and I bet you’re glad you became a welder than a paper pusher =)

    Can’t wait to read more!

    • automatic32 says:

      Thanks, Rebekah! The welding job was one of the greatest jobs I ever had, aside from the one restoring vintage race cars and the freelance work for the hot rod magazines. That machine shop, it smelled like rust, dirt, metal and oil: the smells of unlimited possibility!

  3. […] You can also find our previous guest blogs at Horsing Around with Metal and On the Ball with Metal. […]

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