Most people think of welding as a practical trade. The traditional image of the welder is of a man welding together a car frame or a pipeline. However, welding is becoming a more common technique in the art world. Many modern artists and sculptors use welding to create magnificent metal works of art. When you embark into the world of welded art, you need to think about technique, materials, function and theme.
Function and Form
Some art projects are strictly decorative in their nature. They have no purpose other than to exist as art. If creating decorations doesn't interest you, weld some practical projects with a decorative flair instead. Projects such as a mailbox or a bicycle rack serve a function, but you can create them in a way that is individualised and artistic. The amount of creativity you put into it depends on your own welding experience and inspiration. Anyone with welding experience can put together a simple bike rack or mailbox. Your customisation could range from a unique paint job to making your project out of interesting found materials instead of common steel. You could make a bird waterer out of an old flagpole base and a hubcap, for instance.
The right materials are crucial to welded art. Usually, metal sculpture is not created from plain rebar or steel. Instead, sculptors dredge junk-piles and salvage yards looking for inspiration in any shape or size. Engine parts, appliances, structural steel, old chains and more can all serve as inspiration when creating welded art. Part of the skill of a metal art welder is knowing enough metallurgy and welding technique to know how to securely join found materials made from diverse metals. Artistic welding beginner's projects should be made from metal that is not overly thick, as it can be difficult to work with. Also, lightweight metals, such as aluminium, can be difficult to weld without experience.
Choosing a theme or basic idea for an art welding project is often the most important step. For example, western-themed art is a very common choice among welding artists. Horseshoes have been welded in almost every possible configuration as western-themed art projects, including the classic bookends where two shoes are welded together at a perpendicular angle. This is a beginner welding project that most budding metal artists try at least once. Many other artists choose other inspirations, and welded sculptures range from robot- and cyborg-inspired designs to completely random works of modern art.
Welders use all types of equipment and welding methods when creating art. Choosing which one is right for any given welder will depend on budget and experience with various welding methods. Usually, welding art projects are created using arc welding or oxyacetylene welding. Welding art creators aren't limited to welding as the only possible technique when creating art. Grinding, cutting, polishing and any other techniques that you can think of for working metal should be utilised to realise your vision.