Within the workshop space at the University of Reading, we are very lucky to have a metal workshop, and to be able to have the opportunity to be trained in this. The first part of this workshop is learning basic health and safety, the tools that you may be using and the technique of ARC welding. I have previously done MIG welding, in which a gas is used to protect the weld from the air. If the weld reacts with the air, this can have dire consequences and a contaminated weld. With ARC welding, a coating on the rod used to ‘fuse’ the two pieces of metal together, does this job.
For ARC welding at Reading, we must provide cotton clothing, steel toe cap leather boots with a rubber sole (to earth you) and overalls. The University then provides for us the necessary masks, goggles, gloves and aprons for extra safety when welding. Other tools, other than the welder than can be used include; hammers, nuts and bolts, wire brushes and angle grinders (these we are not allowed to use, expect under close supervision from the workshop staff).
ARC welding can be used to make structures as a basis, or for under the artwork, or as part of the aesthetic features, and the part that is visible to the viewer. I am unsure as to which I will use welding for, however I have some ideas as I move into a more sculptural-based practice. Many artists have used ARC welding, or welding in general as part of their art practice, often bringing it into sculptures. These artists include; Alexander Calder, Harry Kramer, Philip King, Richard Deacon, Kendal Buster, Rebecca Warren, Lindsay Seers, Anthea Hamilton and Michael Dean.