An unseasonably cold Saturday morning in Atlanta greets Danielle and I as we head over to Charlie Smith and Jaime Ladet’s workshop to learn how to weld and help out with the Quadrapass Project. http://www.howhowhow.com/
This massive sculptural undertaking is planned to burn in South Africa for the first ever Regional Burn on that continent, Afrika Burns. The same weekend, a sister sculpture will burn at Transformus, the North Carolina Regional event. Yes, we really are everywhere, aren’t we?
Upon arriving it was easy to identify which warehouse was the one we were seeking. The area in front was full of other pieces created by the artists.
There was no time to waste, we got right down to business with some welding 101. Charlie walked us through the basics, explaining what we were about to build, how the equipment worked, and safety safety safety.
Jaime was our most patient welding instructor for the day. Explaining and demonstrating how the mig welder works on an individual basis. We all had a chance to watch each other and have our own turn at making tack welds on scrap metal bits.
While some were learning to weld, others were outside working to grind and buff a cauldron made at the last workshop. The edges must be carefully ground down to remove all the bumps and sharp bits – it also helps to keep the integrity of the cauldron so it doesn’t pop open when it heats up.
Jimbo and Danielle – bundled up and ready to grind.
We had to piece the parts together like a giant puzzle and then tack weld them together. Charlie was very good about dividing up the work so everyone got a chance to get hands on and leave their mark on the piece. Once we had everything tacked together, it was time to get the cross supports in place.
Getting the sides straight was a little tricky.
Drew preps for a crossbar.
Once all the crossbars were in place we wanted to see how far we’d come and decided to stand it upright. Seeing the piece upright for the first time was a shock, 14 feet is really tall and it doesn’t even have the base on it yet.
We decided to set up the cauldron created at the first workshop as well as two wooden templates for the others. It’s going to be one HOT piece of art when it’s complete.
The following day we worked to ‘skin’ the cauldron using more of the same techniques we had learned the day before. At one point Charlie realized that we needed to cut out one of the crossbars because it was causing a ripple and needed to be cut down.
He also had to crawl into the cauldron itself to secure it in a few places. We left that part to the pro since it was a tight spot and tricky angle.
Meanwhile, Daniel started to teach us the really fun stuff: working with a plasma cutter! We all had a chance to learn the ropes and then test our new skills by making a small symbol to take home. Eventually, the sides of all four cauldrons will be decorated with plasma cut symbols by the people from the workshops both here and in South Africa.
Daniel gives Drew tips on the plasma cutter.
It cuts through the steel like butter!
What a wonderful way to spend a weekend, learning some real life skills, being creative, making new friends and leaving a mark on a large, beautiful piece of art. Come June, Charlie and Jaime will head to South Africa to do the same workshops with the local people there to create a piece that will live in Cape Town once it is completed.
It was sad to leave my new friends but the road was calling. Next stop: Serendipity, an animal sanctuary, home of Element the South Carolina Regional Burn.