Scrap metal has always had a special place in my heart since the first time I set foot in the metalworking shop in Art School. I used to go through other artist’s junk piles and make sculptures only from scrap so I wouldn’t have to buy materials. I found the creative process more gratifying because I could see potential beauty in something even an artist saw no value in. I didn’t know how to weld back then, everything was soldered together…
I have come a long way as a welder/fabricator* since then but I still do love going through scrap metal bins and finding treasures.
It has made more than one co-worker laugh and many like to tease me and call me a dumpster diver. But I continue to rummage through crop pieces, mistakes, scrap, drill shaving and hole punch positives.
The way discarded pieces of metal are integrated into my new creative projects manages to impress even the most hardened critics. Just today, a co-worker with 20 or so years experience, saw these plant pot holders and was blown away. This same welder was making fun of my “dumpster diving” not even 6 months ago. Now, he knows the potential I see in scarp metal…It makes me smile inside to watch him save interesting metal pieces and set them aside for me.
I could sit and explain where each piece of scrap came from and their stories but it would be a bore to anyone but myself. Instead, I would like to share with you some of the scrap metal parts I am integrating into the plant pot holders I made this week.
After wire wheeling the rusty parts and rounding down the edges, I just start playing with the parts and making them fit together.
For my first piece, I tried minimalism. I wanted to know how few pieces could be used to support a ceramic pot full of humid dirt and have it be stable and interesting to look at. This is what it looks like:
The second piece was more of an experiment with the different dies on the big press in the shop and the different shapes that these would create. The result was a pile of odd and unique round bars that looked like snakes on LSD. I made them all interlock without welding them together to see if I could still get structure and stability without the aid of welding (I cheated and put one tack on the very bottom two bars for it to stop tilting to one side).
The red plant pot holder is the last one I completed before calling it a night on Thursday. It was the most exciting and challenging one to assemble. I curved 1/4” and 3/8” round bar anyway and every way until I had created a crazy pile of steel spaghetti. All these metal noodles are all just interwoven and interlocked in this chaotic functional sculpture. I am hoping to combine it with a beautiful ceramic plant pot I have with lilies and trailing plants in it. I will post a picture when they have been combined and the plants are more lively, in late spring.
Here are all of them side by side.
If you would like to view them in real life, I will be setting them up by the Whaletown Garden Centre.
Here’s some pictures of them in action:
***AWESOME SECRET (not so secret) TIP***
When working with old, greasy, rusty, dirty or painted metal, it is best to clean off any grease or paint, grind down imperfections and wire wheel the rust off BEFORE working with it. If you do not do it beforehand, you will not be able to get to all those tight place once the parts are welded together. Not to mention the fact that welding clean metal is SO much easier.
There are no creative rules when using scrap metal, the only limits are set by the boundaries of your imagination.
*a welder/fabricator differs from a welder in the sense that a fabricator can take a flat piece of plate and cut it, bend it, roll it and form it to become anything. While a welder can use the correct welding process to attach parts together to keep parts from coming apart.