We spoke at some length as I told him how my love of this art form started with learning to be a blacksmith and then taking some welding classes and marrying the two into an art form. We discussed how I use old tools and rusty junk to create yard art.
I am happy to say that Gary has finally got his book published, It can be purchased at www.mainstreetrag.com/GPowell.html or on his website www.authorgaryvpowell.com.
Shown below is the excerpt from Chapter 16 as shown on Gary's website about character Jimmy McLean.
An excerpt from Chapter 16 of my novel,
"Lucky Bastard," currently in pre-sale with Mainstreet Rag Press. My protagonist, Jimmy McLean, a handyman in many ways, is looking to woo a new flame.
Welding was not something a man undertook lightly. I came to it through blacksmithing. Harley told me once that there was no future in blacksmithing. I told him I took it up for the past, not the future.
I'd wanted to forge metal the way they had in the Bronze Age. I'd wanted to create knives and swords and shields by hand. For me, it came down to mastery of the skill, like carpentry or roofing.
For a while, I apprenticed to an old man who made flatware and nails and horseshoes the way they did in the old days. His customers wanted authenticity and paid extra if he left hammer marks on his work. When he died, I bought his coal-fire forge from his estate.
I made a few pieces, weapons mostly, like the long-bladed swords the Celts used to hack away at the Romans or the short daggers Scotsmen carried—dirks displayed at their waist and sgian dubhs hidden in their kilt hose. I gave them to my boys. After a while, I wanted something new, something different, but still something with fire. That's when I turned to welding.
I sat in on a community college class and learned the basics. I bought the equipment and built a shed behind my trailer. I learned to weld butt joints, lap joints, corner joints, edge joints, and T-joints. I could even slap together a double-V preparation joint, where two pieces of material tapered to a single center point at one-half their height. I was also handy with single and double-U joints. Instead of having straight edges like the single-V and double-V preparation joints, U joints were curved, forming the shape of a U. Lap joints were used to bind several pieces of metal together.
Fortunately, my welds weren't called on to hold bridges or buildings together. Anymore, my ambition was limited to piecing together yard art out of scrap metal. Most folks thought the knack was in the welding, but it wasn't. The knack was in being able to see flowers and insects and other objects in rusty clamps, discarded rods, and old railroad anchors.
I created my art for myself. I didn't give a damn what anyone else thought. I'd given pieces to Harley and Pablo over the years. Jolene displayed one of my bicycle-chain bumble bees in the little flower garden next to her stoop. A few months ago, I showed my work at a flea market and made enough to fill up my truck with gas. Most of my work stayed in my shed.
I should have been working on the wine cabinet I'd promised my customer. Instead, I stripped off my shirt and set my eyes on an old Schwinn bike I'd found at the county dump. Next to the bike was a cardboard box full of rusty nuts and bolts. Another box contained refractory and rebar of various lengths. Other boxes were for clamps, chains, faucets, shelving, and sheet metal, most of it reclaimed from junk yards.
I wanted a piece for Becky. I had in mind flowers, not just one, but several, a metal garden to compliment Becky's real garden. I wanted a hummingbird to float among the flowers, seeking nectar. I thought maybe a bee opposite the hummingbird. It was an ambitious vision, but I had an idea how to make it happen.
Bicycle sprockets could serve as flowers, but so could fencing or heavy wire, properly worked into petals. Refractory made a stamen, rebar formed stems. Sheet metal, cut and shaped, became leaves, some of them curled by a breeze. Glass light bulbs from a discarded chandelier looked like tulips. A nut and bolt could become a hummingbird's head, the coil from a discarded bed spring, its body. Thin metal sheeting, supported by a pencil-thin frame, became wings and tail.
Part of the challenge, was making do with what I had. I began to disassemble the bike, originally a boy's bike, a twenty-six-incher, from the 1950s. The boy would be my age or older now, the bike only a memory. It was about to be reborn, like a sinner at a revival, re-forged by my hand and eye.