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
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.
Have you ever watched Dragon’s Den? Theo Paphitis – one of the dragons, set up something called Small Business Sunday (#SBS) on Twitter some time ago. He chooses six lucky winners every week and re-tweets them on a Monday evening to his half a million followers.
Last night our phones were going crazy with the alerts from well-wishers, in particular other winners of #SBS. Apparently there’s a special club of winners, who have a Twitter community on Tuesday evenings and we’ll also be invited down to receive an award from Theo too.
The last 12 months are certainly turning out to be amazing. We were approved by Google as a certified provider because of our great online customer service, we’ve been on the telly with DIY SOS (read the story here) and now we’ve received very welcome recognition from one of the Dragons himself.
We’ll keep you posted online with any further developments, and we’ve been warned by other worthy winners, that this week, may be a very busy week of PR activity.
So watch this space and hopefully we’ll have some well-deserved time off to watch the Tour De Yorkshire cycle race as it passes through Wakefield on Sunday.
If you own a business and you’d like to have a go, here’s link on Theo’s website to show you how.
Recently on Channel 4’s Jamie and Jimmy’s Friday Night Feast, the talented Jimmy Doherty demonstrated how to make your very own DIY chicken rotisserie. We loved the idea, so we thought we’d share the idea along for you to try at home.
What You’ll Need
- Wire mesh sheet 1000 x 1000mm (non-galvanised)
- Aluminium sheet 500 x 1000mm
- Fire bricks appox. 15
- Threaded rod with nuts, bolts and washers
- BBQ Rotisserie Kit
What Tools You’ll Need
Personal Protective Equipment
- Safety Goggles
- Cut resistant gloves
So how do you make it?
Fortunately, Channel 4 have drawn up instructions on how to recreate Jimmy’s design.
The DIY chicken rotisserie would be perfect for the garden during summer, so if you’d like to have a go at making your very own chicken rotisserie, you can find weld mesh on the Metal Store website here and aluminium sheets here.
If you’d like to watch the man himself, Jimmy Doherty, make the rotisserie, you can watch Jamie and Jimmy’s Friday Night Feast on 4oD here – but only for so long!
If you decide to make one, we’d love to see it, so feel free to send us pictures!
You can also find us on social media:
This week’s guest blog comes from Melissa Cole, 45, Wiltshire, UK.
I started ‘tinkering’ in my Dad – Hector Cole MBE’s – forge and didn’t think there was anything unusual about him having a forge in the back of the garage at home.
I helped out drilling holes for a big pair of gates he was making and ‘played’ in the forge as a teenager, but didn’t really appreciate the whole thing until I went to study for my art degree. I then realised metal art was what I wanted to do.
During my art degree I used the forge, anvil and hammer to create linear sculptures and I’m still drawn to that simple way of working now, but with a more refined approach focusing on individual hammer marks.
My dad trained me in traditional blacksmithing skills, I learnt to weld from a pro welder and I never thought about what to make when I was designing as I didn’t want to limit myself!
I didn’t want to be a purist blacksmith, nor make knives or weapons; that’s my Dad’s speciality. I always wanted to work with people, so wrote and fundraised for a community art project.
The Arts Council offered to fund my project if I would take my forge into the community and work with young people, encouraging them to take a risk and be creative at the same time. I wasn’t sure if this would work but it did and I never looked back.
In 2007 I was awarded the Bronze Medal from The Worshipful Company of Blacksmiths for my forge work.
As the secondary schools were throwing out and closing down the metal workshops, I was going in to primary and secondary schools as a specialist with my own forge and equipment to teach metal skills and create site specific sculptures. This was brilliant fun, rewarding and challenging and I did it for 15 years, culminating in my forge and equipment going to Joint HQ military base in Monchengladbach in Germany for me to work with the base and school on a commemorative sculpture project in 2013.
I started to work on larger public art commissions, sometimes working alongside engineering companies. I learnt lots of skills and enjoy that still. Recently I have started to cast in bronze with a friend that has a foundry but I prefer hammering hot metal really!
I stopped taking my forge and equipment to schools and now teach from home – short courses and introductory days for people wanting to try blacksmithing. I really enjoy this and try to balance it alongside my commissioned work.
My work is all designed by me, I work for private clients and public projects and my style of work is what draws people to me.
I try to design light and fluid pieces that aren’t barriers but encourage you to look at a space and the shapes between the lines I make.
If I can, I make my own sculptural pieces through the year and have small exhibitions at my forge.
I work on my own unless it is a huge project where I can call in some help and I always use engineers to install my large works.
Last year I made two very different style garden gates for private clients and two large screening panels for a public space in Oxford, an Altar cross and candlesticks for a hospice as well as 40 days teaching!
One of my favourite pieces is the River Route wall mounted installation on Chapel Street in Oxford. It is a depiction of the River Isis that wraps around the building and is all hand forged.
The piece was really challenging due to the nature of the wall construction which meant I could only fix to battens behind specific mortar joints while getting flowing piece of 3D metalwork. I only missed 1 out of 84 fixing holes so was really pleased! I think it looks great up there!
To me, the best thing about working in metal is that anything is possible! You can work out how to make it work with time and a bit of engineering!
If you’re interested in being a Guest Blogger for The Metal Store feel free to get in touch with us, we’d love to showcase your work!