An empty wooden pallet and a pile of junk metal might not be the stuff of inspiration to most people, but in the hands of welding students at Peninsula College, that junk is transformed into works of art that offer multiple learning opportunities along the way, including an opportunity for camaraderie: The Junk Art Wars.
The Junk Art Wars were spawned when an IBEST instructor was asked by one of his supervisors to investigate a welding rodeo that Bellingham Technical College was putting on. We followed up on it and found out they were making art pieces that had to be created within a certain timeframe. It mimicked the TV show Junk Yard Wars, but at the college level. We thought, “Sure, we can do that.” It sounded like fun, and thus, Junk Art Wars began.
Starting with a pile of scrap…
Students are allowed one day for design, one day to collect scrap and one day to construct their piece. It started as a game that we could play and teach the students something at the same time. The students appreciated that they got to fabricate something that was just an idea; something that they came up with on their own.
I had no idea what to expect out of this process initially. The first year was so successful that we decided to incorporate two more days the next year.
We noticed after the second “War” that the dynamic of the art changed; it had gotten better. Initially we were seeing things like little fisherman figures welded together with square tube and pipes, and it took people a minute or two to figure out what was going on. When we settled on a water theme, students started thinking outside the box. We had water fountains and water wheels colored with heat. We had little streams with fish jumping out of them, and eagles burnished to attain the heat colors we wanted. It was phenomenal!
Each four-member team creates a G-rated piece around a theme which must include five shapes: angle, square, round, channel and rectangular. All touching metal must be welded with cuts made with oxyacetylene or PAC. Each team will be judged on a scale of 1-10 in categories including weld quality, creativity and originality, participation and competition criteria. At the end of the competition, each team will cast a vote for another team’s Junk Art. Valued at only one point, this may break a tie or sway judging, serving as sort of a “wildcard”.
Salmon sculpture by PC Welding Students
This year marked our 7th annual Junk Art Wars, and I have to say, this was the most fun I have had in the welding field ever.
So, if you’re interested in re-igniting your creativity or exploring a new career path, consider PC’s night welding courses for credit or for fun. These programs were created to accommodate overflow from the welding program’s lengthy waitlist, and for people who work during the day.
PC Welding instructor Eoin Doherty is running a non-credit, beginner to advanced night welding course this summer on Mondays and Tuesdays from 5:00 -9:00 pm in the welding lab as Peninsula College.
Beginning September 21, 2015, Suzanne Robertson will instruct a two credit welding course at PC’s main campus on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6:00 – 9:00 pm. Registration is open for credit and noncredit classes through June 30.
Jeramie O’dell has been welding since he was 13 years old. His father was a logger by trade, which introduced him to a “blue collar environment” at a very young age. While helping his dad weld part of a trailer, he realized he’d found his calling. For a young teenage boy, playing with fire was cool.
He began his career welding things together with explosives which “was a blast”. After eight years in the field, he went through PC’s welding program in 2003-04. He followed that with four years in ship repair before becoming a welding instructor at Peninsula College. He has been at PC for seven years now, and has “enjoyed almost every minute of it.”
In his free time Jeramie enjoys working in the garden, riding motorcycles, snowboarding and welding anything he can get his hands on, particularly when someone says “you can’t weld that”.