Heavy Metal

You want to do that? A city recreation center class, like one offered at the Phoenix Center, is a great introduction to welding. Mesa and Tempe often offer similar classes. And when you're ready to crank the gas, Mesa Community College offers a wide variety of structural and sculptural — oxyacetylene (gas) and electric (arc and MIG) — courses, which may even lead to certification.

Blinkin Large by Tedd McDonah
courtesy of Tedd McDonah
Blinkin Large by Tedd McDonah


Pieh Tool Company, Inc.
661 East Howards Road, Camp Verde
If you plan to forge weld, you're going to need both coal and coke (that's hot-burning bituminous coal). Picking up a bag of briquettes at Safeway won't cut it. Patience, grasshopper. There will be many steps before you're ready to haul 50-pound bags of coal and coke back to the Valley (save a spendy delivery charge). Pieh Tool Company can help guide you. Start here by mining Pieh's resources (excellent selection of books) and classes in advance of setting up your own shop with the tools and machines they sell.
Tedd McDonah
When ASU metals instructor Tedd McDonah was studying metalsmithing in college, he made a piece of jewelry that resembled a fishing lure. In what was a slow progression from jewelry to a thesis, he started making actual lures. A folk art class opened his eyes to all kinds of different materials, and he began incorporating found objects and wood. McDonah's aren't necessarily lures that one might use to fish but tiny copper and preprinted steel (tin can) works of art. The hooks, then, become ironic, as these are so precise and beautiful, you'll want to dangle them from your ears. Check out McDonah's latest line of copper and pre-printed steel lures — Recyclures — on etsy.com.
Lonnie's Inc.
1436 North 44th Street, Phoenix
Lonnie's Inc., which has been selling supplies to valley jewelers, hobbyists, and craftsmen for 30 years, has an impressive selection of books and more. One of the many cool things you'll find here is a late craze in metal work — PMC, or precious metal clay. It's a moist clay-like material infused with microscopic metal particles developed by Mitsubishi Materials in Japan. You work it like clay, let it air dry, then fire it. The clay melts away and you're magically left with a silver or gold alloy object that can be polished, enameled, or soldered like any other metal object. Check out the Precious Metal Clay Guild's mind-blowing online gallery (www.pmcguild.com).
Arizona Artist Blacksmith Association
President's motto: Get it hot, hit it hard! The AABA offers dirt-cheap membership — $30 individual, $35 family — that buys you meetings, newsletters, classes, demonstrations, and, most important, community, even for those just starting to explore metals and how to melt and manipulate them. Check out the member's gallery online for all shapes and sizes of inspiration, from jewelry to massive chandeliers, gates, doors and much in between.

Fireborn, are you ready to change, expand, and accept the heat?

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