I had so many ideas I wanted to try. Sometimes a crazy idea comes to mind and I just couldn’t rest until I tried it! – A guest blog by Glenn HowardPosted: November 30, 2015
My name is Glenn Howard Weidman and I have been a welder for over 21 years now. I have been a rig welder in the oil and gas fields of Colorado for the last ten years.
It was only about two years ago that I attempted any decorative iron work. I was actually inspired by my son Manny who is himself an incredibly gifted sketch artist. (He had to get it from somewhere, right?) We started out by having him draw flowers or animals in plate steel and I would cut them out with an oxy-acetylene torch. From there I was hooked. I had so many ideas I wanted to try. Sometimes a crazy idea comes to mind and I just couldn’t rest until I tried it!
I’ve always loved the freedom and endless possibilities involved in decorative iron work. When I’m welding pipe in the oil field I have very strict parameters I have to conform to, both in dimensions and X-Ray inspection. But, when I’m fabricating a decorative piece I can leave the square and tape measure in the tool box. The shape can be anything I envision. I often change my mind or vary the general concept several times before completion.
Lately, I’ve done a lot of horseshoe pieces. It seems to reflect the culture of the area I live in. Besides, the horseshoes are given to me, free of charge! It’s a fun concept with limitless possibilities.
I hope to start doing much more decorative metal work professionally in the future. I would like to find a shop and start taking on decorative iron jobs like the pieces featured here, railings, sculptures or whatever I and a customer can envision.
If you’d like to find out more about what I do, you can see my Facebook page here – https://www.facebook.com/glenn.weidman
My fascination with fixing, making and building things, started way back in 1995 aged 13 when me and my dad bought an old mini from the classifieds to restore. The car was mine and the aim was for me to have a car that I could use once passed my driving test. Many many nights and weekends were spent cutting out bits of rotten metal and cleaning up old parts to make them like new. My dad taught me how to use various tools and I gradually got ‘the nack’ of being comfortable using them.
3 years later, upon school leaving, I was signing on the dotted line to become a member of the RAF as an aircraft engineer. These years taught and honed my abilities to use my hands and my love of engineering was founded.
I spend 10 years as an aircraft engineer whilst building up several cars in my spare time. Each one attempting to be different to others and push boundaries. I actually got a kick from building and fabricating my own specific parts. Just being able to express myself with metal and other materials gave me a lot of happiness.
In 2013 after 5 years in civilian aviation, I had acquired a couple of old bits in my garage. One of which was a set of old grey leather aircraft seats. I realised we needed a new computer office chair in the house so I decided to build one. A week later it was built, but didn’t really match the décor, so it was put up for sale. After 2 hours, it was sold!
I started to get asked to build pieces that people needed. Reaction to them was really good and I started to quickly outgrow the small garage I had, so I headed out looking for a new workshop.
I found one for a reasonable cost and fitted it out with tooling and various aircraft parts I found. This soon became too small so I now reside in a 1000sqft workshop with my own sheet metal working area, a spray paint area, photography corner, lots of storage and space to work on different projects at the same time. This means I can produce more pieces, weather ordered bespoke or off the cuff builds for sale. I genuinely love to build pieces that other people haven’t thought of or haven’t attempted. Metal to me is a very nice material. You can mix cold, old steel with high polished aluminium. Adding in rivets or welding it to create contemporary shapes. I am by no means a brilliant welder, but patience and preparation are definite key requirements. The old saying of “measure twice, cut once” is very very true. I hate to waste things, so any offcuts or spare parts from things I’m building, including nuts and bolts, get kept for use at a later date.
I want to be the best in Europe at building Aircraft furniture. Due to having a large network of contacts in the aviation industry, I can get decommissioned parts as a lesser price, which means I can pass on these savings to the clients. Building Pieces of stunning furniture means more to me than making lots of money. I would love people to have a piece of my work in their house or workplace that has history and is a talking point. I love building and using metal. In the past 12 months the business has grown massively. I’ve exhibited at Fulham palace, Grand designs live, and at the national festival of thrift. Published in magazines, The Telegraph and Daily Mail along with BBC radio interviews.
I still vividly remember my first attempt at metal sculpture. In 1978 I daydreamed of making a biplane. Not such a stretch really, after all I was a student at an aircraft school. Aero Mechanics Vocational high school, to be precise. I could see a runway from the Detroit city airport, right outside the rear door of our classroom. I completed my first creation only to have it confiscated by the school’s Assistant Principal, after all I was supposed to be doing something completely different.
Fast forward to 1999. I was nearly 20 years into an industrial welding career and by now I was quite adept at gtaw (tig welding). I began dabbing the filler rod into the puddle. Dabbing and cooling, dabbing and cooling. Much like those 3d pens of today, except I was “drawing” with a tig torch, and stainless steel filler rod! A pair of claws started to take shape, followed by a skeleton, and then an oversized skull. The effect was that of a caricature. I named this one “Baby Rex”.
Welding and art had been a common thread during my formative years. My father was a graphic artist, and his father was a welder. So imagination and visualization became natural to me. Another inspiration to me was my maternal grandfather. He sparked in me the love of wildlife, and an insatiable curiosity for the natural world.
The methodologies of my tig’d “drawings” have evolved over time. I progressed to making armatures, then heating and pounding sheet metal into organic shapes. I also began to experiment with found scrap metal. But always, tig is used for the details, which is my favourite part of the process.
I’m currently experimenting with mixed metals, heat patinas, and surface finishes.
I have been very fortunate to have great teachers in my life. First and foremost is my father, Ray F. Lockhart. as a very young boy, I would watch him work at his drawing board whenever I could. Also, Nathan O’Niel, my high school welding instructor. He had 20 some teenage boys under his tutelage at any time, but he always found time to give personal instruction and encouragement. Lastly, Milton Salisbury, an expert tool and die welder in the automotive stamping field. He took me on as an apprentice, and I enjoyed several years of one to one training in the welding discipline that I continue in, to this day.
I only found boredom in the normal day to day routine. So to fill the void I found ways to channel my ideas into creations.
It started with a passion for playing drums. Teaching myself by creating music that was both original and powerful. Trying to bring something different to the table. This is the same concept I have for my metal work.
I started tinkering with some of my dad’s scrap steel and his old welder about two years ago. It was whilst doing this that I taught myself how to do everything I needed to make my sculptures. I have only been creating sculptures for two years, and I work so making metal art for me is a full time hobby.
The skeleton hand was one of the first things I made. I wanted to make it look like something straight out of the horror movies that I’ve loved all my life.
My inspiration is kind of called “Glam Rot.” Putting an old rustic look on things and glamming up the not-so- pretty. On my commissioned pieces I will find a way to blend my own ideas and give it a creative twist, with a rustic, yet clean cut look.