Life is Funny
I've been drawing since I was old
enough to pick up a crayon.
Pencil drawings were always my
favorite, and as I got older I dabbled a bit in charcoal, pastels,
paints, colored pencils and markers.
Eventually I tried my hand at
ceramics, digital art, wood working, sewing and even
I tried all sorts of
But never would I have imagined
myself becoming a welder. It wasn't even on my
But one fateful college semester
changed all that!
I've been an artist my
Mostly drawing. I drew a LOT as a kid growing up. I was always sitting on the floor, hunched over a piece of paper set on a hard cover book (carpet doesn't make for a very good writing surface for some reason), pencil in hand, with the TV playing in the background. I always had to have the TV playing. I guess my mind was just too active to focus just on the drawing, so I needed something else to stir up some noise, or for my eyes to rest on when I'd pause in the middle of my work.
Many children like to draw things they are familiar with. Trees. Animals. Family. Flowers. Their favorite super hero. You know the drill.
These things never interested me though. Why spend time drawing something I saw every day? Boring!
And so, when I would sit down and set pencil to paper, I would draw whatever came to mind.
Dragons! Dinosaurs! Creatures with horns and scales and fangs! Shaggy, furry beasts trundling across grassy fields. Winged creatures soaring through the air, or resting on rocks. Occasionally I'd get really creative and draw a tree, or some plants, or water.
my crazy imagination is due largely to my voracious book reading.
If I wasn't doing school work, drawing, or running around outside,
I had my nose in a book. And it was almost always a fantasy story
of some sort.
Abstract is an art form that has never held much interest in my mind. Honestly? I think most of it isn't worth the materials spents to make it. Yet creating animals and monsters and beasts that only existed in fantasy... now that I could get into! They may not be real, but when you looked at it, you knew that an arm was an arm. A wing was a wing. You knew if there was fur, or if there wasn't. You could see the shape of the beast, the parts and pieces used to put it together.
This particular brand of artistry has followed me my whole life. Creating things that I imagine in my mind, rather then replicating what is around me. Not only that, when I did make something, I tried to make it out of the ordinary.
In my jewelry class, I
designed and crafted a necklace of a chinese dragon out of layered
copper, brass, and silver (my teacher informed me that it was
probably the most difficult project he'd seen that semester. Not
sure if that was a compliment or not).
In ceramics, when the teacher asked us to build an 18in sculpture out of clay coils, most of the class built vases. I built a big green and yellow creature with huge eyes, long fingers, and bushy eyebrows.
In biology, when our teacher assigned Power Point projects for large predators and birds of prey, I chose a Snow Leopard and a Harpy Eagle, because I wanted something unusual (do you know how hard it was to find enough info on those species to fill a 25 slide presentation each??? OMG!)
Once I graduated from high school, I headed into college with the idea that I'd start a degree in computer graphics. After all, I'd been drawing since forever, and I'd become very interested in CG art and design. At the time, it seemed like it would be a good place to start.
But after one semester of that, I had to call it quits. Getting up at 6am, to spend 2hrs doing nothing but line drawings of boots and squash and carts 4 days a week for 4 months... my brain couldn't take it. I didn't even want to THINK about a drawing class for over a year.
After that I shifted focus to another degree (hurray for Biotechnology!) which I didn't care for at all, but it gave me something to do. And it was while I was working on that, that I came across the Basic Metal Sculpting class.
Now, as I said, welding and metal work was something I'd never put much thought into, though I found the art form interesting. I just wasn't that good at sculpture, so spending time on a sculpture-based art form didn't appeal to me.
But, since I always took one interesting class every semester in a subject I didn't know, I decided to give it a shot.
I have never come across anything that grabbed and held my attention as strongly this art form did.
I. Loved. It.
The fire and sparks... the clanging of hammer on steel... the glow of hot metal... the wonderfully smooth feel of the steel after polishing it... the strength and durability of the sculptures... able to hold its form, even on small, delicate parts.
Loved it??? I HAD TO DO IT!!!
Anyone who has ever found that special something in their life will know that feeling... that absolute assurety that THIS is what they were meant to do. All it took was one semester and I KNEW that working with steel was what I was meant to do.
And waddaya know! Apparently I AM good at sculpting... I just needed to find a medium more tolerant of manhandling then clay.
Sadly, my college did not offer any sort of degrees in sculpture art. So I continued to take that class while working on my other degree. Once graduated, I was able to spend some time working with another artist, a fabulous guy named Fred Conlon, who also worked with steel and recycled art, and owned a shop called 'Sugarhouse Pottery and Metal'. Though I only worked with him for a year, he had a profound influence on my work and my style. If it wasn't for him, I'm not sure if I'd ever have gotten into recycled art.
After that I spent a couple years out of state, but I continued to take classes there, so I could continue creating things. But I was starting to find that making things in a classroom wasn't enough. I had no equipment of my own, so the only way I could work on anything was to go to class. Which meant limited time, limited resources, and restrictive class assignments. I wanted to have my OWN shop, my OWN equipment, and make my OWN art work.
This was about the time my parents finally stepped in and bribed me to move back home (I really wasn't going anywhere job-wise in that other state anyway) and offered to help me get my own shop going.
And thus... The Iron Phoenix was born!
I almost find it a bit odd that I would end up naming my shop after the Phoenix. Not that I don't like that awesomely cool bird of legend... its just I've always been a dragon kinda girl.
But again, this goes back to that whole 'have to do things differently' mentality I've had my whole life.
During that first semester of metal sculpting, I wanted to make something really cool. A wall hanging. I had considered making a dragon, but ended up veto'ing that idea because I already had a ton of dragon stuff. So... I had to come up with something else... like a phoenix... Phoenix were cool. I liked fire. They were rather uncommon in the art community as a whole (really, how often do you see images of Phoenix anywhere?? It's hard to even finding a good image of one online).
And so, my first real project... my first real design and sculpture... was of a large phoenix.
What better name for my
shop, my dream, my life, my future, then that of the first thing I
ever made from steel?