Path of Hot Iron

“That’s something you could do”, my dad commented.

Years ago, my family was having a day out for fun by visiting the KY State Fair. I wasn’t so interested about the livestock divisions of the fair as I was local artist and collectors exhibitions. I am always amazed to see the brain children of Kentucky’s local artist. My favorite kinds of art are the junk artist. I am envious of the artists that could take the contents of a junkyard and transform it into metal art. Cutlery to Jewry. Spare parts to mini motorcycles. Car mufflers to tin men. I wanted to have that kind of sideways thinking and make something out of nothing.

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While exploring the various booths and galleries my dad pointed out a series of humanoid figures for sale that were made from silverware.

My Dad saw the display, knew of my passion for building, and prompted a thought, “That’s something you could do.”

Since then his comment became one of those ideas that tickled and nagged and refused to go away.

I was a frequent customer to local junk shops that sold a wide assortment of wears that could be identified as “yard sale clutter.” So, finding junk silverware to destroy was the easy part. Next, I had to ask myself, “What kind of creature can one make from forks, spoons, and knives?”  My answer, a sea turtle. All it would require are a shell, a head, and four fins. What other design could be simpler? What came next was a little trickier.

As it so happens that one of my old friends from the Boy Scouts was a mechanic and let me borrow his small wire welder. A tool I have never used before, not even in my engineering high school, but wanted to try it anyway. As a typical male I thought: “How hard could it be?” However, I soon learned why people go to school for these kinds of tools.

As I began my first weld, I ran into problems I didn’t think existed for my simple project. The biggest problem I had was that I had no idea what I was doing. Up till now I thought a welder was just an oversized glue gun and treated the strange device as such. I didn’t know what the little dials on the machine did, I didn’t know I had to attach a big ground clap to whatever I was working on and I certainly didn’t know how hot the metal would be after a little bit of weld solder! My Dad, who was helping me, was even more mystified by this device than I was. The project was one big frustration.

My first attempt wasn’t so successful, but that was to be expected. Disappointing, but expected.

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After my first attempt, I decided to give back the welder and try again with JB Weld glue instead. The results were much more satisfactory. I was so impressed by my own ingenuity; I entered my turtle in the 2013 KY State Fair and won 2nd Place!

 

A great achievement, but welding with glue was not fun for me. So, I decided to shelve my thoughts on metal work for a later date when I can come across better tools and learn how to use them. Flash-forward about three years later, I decided to revisit route. This time, with some proper training.

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