Thursday, June 20, 2013

Gone Welding: Now I'm Back!

Well hello there!  Apologies for being away the past couple of months.  Let me catch you up on what's been going on:

I just completed a sculptural welding class.  That's my main excuse for a lack of recent posts.  I'm really glad I took the class, and I do have some show and tell in the form of a couple of projects.

The first thing I learned while welding with an oxy-acetelyne torch is you can very easily burn through the metal you are trying to weld!  I wanted to make a danish-stylized wire sculpture of a fish similar to this one I found online, but I kept messing up.

So I changed  direction and decided to start by welding thicker metal - rebar to be precise.  That led me to doing some searches for examples of rebar art, and I ended up with a salmon.  I printed out a photo, traced it onto graph paper, then enlarged it on some construction paper.

Here's the finished piece.  What I learned: bending rebar takes some real muscle!  And it is very easy to burn through rebar with a torch.

I had enough time left in my 9-week class to do another project, so I drew up some plans for a tiki guy based on a photo I found of a vintage surfing trophy.

With a 1:1 drawing I could then start cutting and bending the pieces to make the sculpture.

I realized that my original drawing would need some modifications so I lengthened the base so it would push into the ground for display outside.  This project was destined for a friend's garden, and the letters incorporated into the head also needed to change as it was supposed to be AFFP. (The initials for a scholarly book about to be published by my friend's husband, an anthropologist who appreciates tiki art).

And here's the final.

The first few pieces of this also were welded with an oxy-acetelyne torch, but I finished it up with an electric welder (MIG).  Using a MIG welder seems a bit easier and faster, sort of like working with a very hot "glue gun."  Once again I found myself deviating somewhat from the drawing.  I'm pretty happy with the result, despite some imperfections.

So anyway, I bought a MIG welder and the tools I need to weld at home.  I'm stoked to start doing some repairs on some metal pieces I have that have broken welds, and I want to make some more art and eventually try my hand at some mid-century style shelves and chairs, and also play around some with another hobby of mine, old bicycles.  Stay tuned!

In other news, if you usually read this blog with Google Reader, HEADS UP!  You should know by now that sometimes Google giveth and Google taketh away.  And the Google master plan now calls for Google Reader to go away permanently at the end of June (2013).  So, I want to offer up a couple of ways to continue keeping up with Uncle Atom.

I will continue this blog, so you can always find me at  or  If you are like me and you follow many other blogs, there are other blog readers which can import all your Google blog links, but I think you have to act pretty fast, i.e., before the end of June.  Two that I use are Reeder, and Feedly.

You can also follow me at:


Twitter (@Uncle_Atom)

and now Instagram

I'm looking forward to working on some new and ongoing projects this summer, including the big dig/backyard patio; some welding ideas that I've got percolating; and probably some more projects, vintage finds, and maybe a road trip posting or two.


  1. That's a great skill to have. I love the fish, but I especially like the tiki piece. Good job!

    1. Thanks Dana, I can't wait to try my hand at making some simple furniture.

  2. I'm jealous of your new skill! Where did you take the class?

    1. Mark, the class is offered through the Art League in Old Town Alexandria

      There's a welding course offered in the Manassas area by NOVA/NVCC. I've never tried that because the weekday traffic for me would be awful to deal with.

    2. I've heard that NOVA actually has some very good instructors. Likely, when I'm finally empty nesting, it will be on the horizon. Off to a sale this morning in Manassas......

  3. Those came out awesome! I enjoy picking up random skills too. Welding was never on my list...but maybe it should be...

    1. Look around for a class and give it a try Doug. Thanks for the comment!

  4. That's so cool you can, rebar - I imagine that is quite hard to deal with....I'm impressed! Love the tiki guy!!!