Wednesday, March 25, 2009


I welded a bunch of stuff together

I can weld!

And you're thinking, welding, really, Aaron? Is this the same Aaron who always forgets which way to turn screws to make them tighter and looser?

Yup, and now this mechanically declined nincompoop knows how to operate a Mig (like the jet) welder.

And all after only one class at SmartShop Metal Arts Center. Tuesday was my first "Tools and Techniques" class. I am the marketing coordinator at SmartShop and about a month ago, Holly Fisher, the woman who runs the place and all, offered me a scholarship for a class.

"Yeah," I said, sort of hesitantly, because, well, let's be honest, I am not that great with tools (how I didn't manage to make a complete idiot out of myself while working for a late model race team, I don't know) and I'm not an artist like that.

I can write, take photos, fool around with PhotoShop and InDesign to make cool things, but to actually create things with my hands. No way. I can't paint, draw or make things out of clay. I gave up being that kind of artist in second grade when I showed a friend a drawing I made of VW bug, and he said it looked like I had traced it. Busted. I had. Destroyed.


Ok, but I showed up Tuesday night, a little nervous. Artists and tools that shoot sparks, they both make me nervous.

Holly made it easy. Within the first hour, we all had those cool welding masks on and were doing tack welds on scrap pieces of steel. If you've never welded, those welding masks are strange. When you put them on, everything is kind of dark, you can still see, but it is like wearing five or six pairs of sunglasses on top of each other. When you pull the trigger on the welder, and it starts shooting out super hot wire and fusing pieces of metal together, everything goes black. All you can see are the sparks and a little green dot from your weld. Sparks are flying everywhere, nailing you in the face, which is covered by the welding mask, and landing on your head, which is not covered by the welding masks. I'll wear a bandana next time.

So when the sparks started flying, I closed my eyes. Real smart. In my hand I have superheated metal, and I close my eyes. It made welding sort of difficult, but once I figured out that the sparks weren't going to destroy my face, I kept my eyes open. And that's when I realized.

Welding is pretty easy when you open your eyes.

So I continued, tack welding, welding thick metal to thin metal, turning corners, running beads. I mean, NASCAR is not going to be calling anytime soon, but it was all pretty good.

Just don't ask me to write my name…or the word jello with a welder. Maybe next class.

Btdubs, I made that scuplture at the top. I call it "process 1." During the class, I just started welding all my practice welds together.

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Chris Gilman Medford Oregon

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Chris Gilman Medford Oregon

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