Look Mum I’m grinding! ….and welding

I’ve just got back from London Sculpture Workshops 3 hour ‘Introduction to Welding for Artists’ class.  It does was it says on the box and demystifies the art of welding. What an awesome experience!

It’s funny how quickly you adjust.  At first even the safety helmets were foreign feeling, they have a weird light-reactive bit that you look through, so when the arc is formed (that big-bang-like light) the visor goes black and all you can see is a green lava-like glowworm, flying sparks and a sizzling storm of a sound that is kinda like death metal cooking bacon – know what I mean?  Probably not.

I’ll admit to being a bit freaked out and thinking something along the lines of “shit, oh shit, what the hell am I doing here, if I continue to stand here watching I’ll lose my nerve, let’s get this over with…”  so I volunteered to go first.

Setting up the MIG welder calmed the nerves, as did our lovely tutor who serenely talked me through the safety procedures again, then walked me through setting up the machine again, and was at my shoulder explaining the good, bad and ugly of my efforts.  OK so my 1st attempts at welding weren’t pretty, pretty shit would be more accurate, but each oops teaches you something until there are moments of ahhh, when I could see how cool it would be to get a whole heap better and work on a bigger piece.

Dreamscape: I imagine finding ‘the rhythm’ with your vision tunneled on the molten drop you’re zig zagging smoothly along the steel while the crackle, spark and zap of the instrument your holding sings it’s spiky serenade; its like taming lightening in your hand. Artisan Welders you should swagger, you are cool as shit!!!

So back in the real world,  6 of us took turns at the 2 MIG practice bays which meant that when you weren’t welding you could be cutting up bits of steel plate and piping on the cold saw or trimming and polishing your pieces with the angle grinder, or just watching and helping where needed, I learnt a lot from my fellow students struggles, we were all happy to share our lightbulb moments.  A couple of people made things vaguely resembling sculpture but mostly we just practiced welding bits together at different angles and trying out the zig zag and reverse E methods.  There was also a demonstration of TIG welding and a few people had a  go on that too.

It was fabulous fun working with all the machinery and taking the 1st step in developing this creative technique (with the added bonus of meeting lovely new people), stomping all over that fear of flying hot spark (turns out that they’re not that hot and if you wear appropriate clothing you can’t even feel them) was just an added bonus.

I would totally recommend London Sculpture workshops, they have loads interesting courses, I’ll defo be signing up for more. I should  also mention the fabulous Obby website, they’ve got a course for every whim and I found this workshop via them.

For more good tips on rut-busting websites (including Obby) check out my earlier post ‘Never Be Bored Again’

Laters navigators


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