Welding Rodeo

From scrap to sculpture

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

If you set your alarm early enough this coming Friday or Saturday morning, you can make it to the Bellingham Technical College campus in time to see a spectacle that comes but twice a year.

At approximately 8am each morning, a loud horn will sound, and teams who have gathered to compete in the 12th annual Welding Rodeo will scurry forth to paw through mounds upon mounds of scrap metal. When they’ve found what they think they’ll need among the various hunks of discarded steel, the teams of welders will then get to the task at hand—creating works of fine art using both their tools and their imaginations.

Those who have attended the Welding Rodeo before should know this year’s event will vary slightly from previous rodeos. While there will still be a talented mix of professional teams from around Washington State competing for cash prizes at the spark-saturated soiree, the public will have more of a chance to get involved in the action this year.

In addition to the eight four-person pro teams that will take the theme of “Small Works” and spend up to 16 hours over the course of two days producing polished sculptures with an emphasis on quality, a new “Skills Challenge” invites those with less experience to try their hand at competing.

The rules will go something like this: welders of all ages—and skill levels—can sign up for the challenge. On each day of the competition, winners will be awarded for each skill test at every level, and, while supplies last, each competitor will receive a free T-shirt and have a chance to win a variety of prizes. Welders will be tested on basic to advanced cutting and welding techniques, and can choose the skills on which they want to be evaluated (the intricacies can be found at the event’s website).

Even if attendees don’t elect to take part in the competitions, they can still try their hand at the art form at a hands-on welding booth, where experienced student welders will guide them through the actual process of creating a weld, which they can take home and keep for their very own. (In case you’re worried about your lack of skills, you should know all protective gear will be provided.)

At this point, you may be wondering why the powers that be at Bellingham Technical College put so much effort into wrangling sprawling scraps of metal every May. The event started 12 years ago as a way to bring attention to the school’s welding program, and the BTC campus in general, and, as it’s evolved, it’s become clear the public has responded in a positive manner.

In addition to being privy to the intricate artistic process involved in welding, those who are interested in using the skill to further their careers can glean valuable information at the Welding Rodeo. Industry reps will be on hand to advertise professional opportunities in the field, and the Admissions & Foundation departments from BTC will have information for prospective students on the welding program, and other programs provided at the school. 

Whether you come to see the sparks fly or to find out more about starting a career as a welder, chances are good you’ll find what you came for.  

Finished sculptures will be auctioned off starting at 5:15pm Saturday afternoon, so if you’re one of those early birds who showed up at the start of the day to see the scrap scramble, you might want to make plans to return to see the finished products—and, if you’re so inclined, make a bid.

Ticket Cascadia
More Visual...
Indelible Images
Worlds of wonder at Whatcom Museum

Thanks to a recent viewing of the exhibit “Spineless: Portraits of Marine Invertebrates,”  I’m now convinced that an underwater denizen dubbed the “stubby squid” (Rossia pacifica) is my new spirit animal.

Like the dozens of other up-close-and-personal photographs taken by marine biologist…

more »
Story Paintings
David Kane’s tall tales

“Where does one go after reaching the pinnacle of artistic achievement—a solo retrospective at the Frye Museum?” asks the promo flyer for David C. Kane’s exhibit of his paintings at i.e. gallery in Edison.

Kane, a lifelong teacher of art, is a master of technique. His touch is light,…

more »
Skagit Scene
River Gallery’s seasonal visions

Twice a year, Sylvia Strong pulls together some of the best painting, sculpture, glass and jewelry from the Skagit region to show in her gallery, a well-lit former greenhouse. It affords plenty of space to display a selection of small, affordable pieces by 38 invited artists.


more »
Handling the truth


Word Sprints

6:00pm|Bellingham Public Library

October Chores in the Garden

6:30pm|Skagit Valley Food Co-op

Crossing Zion

7:00pm|Deming Library


8:00pm|Bellingham Public Library


9:30pm|Green Frog

MBT Once MBT Ben Folds
Handling the truth


Halloween Run

6:00pm|Fairhaven Runners

Anti-Inflammation Menu

6:30pm|Community Food Co-op

Beet Inspiration

6:30pm|Gretchen's Kitchen

Polyamorous Particulars

7:00pm|Village Books

Skagit Folk Dancers

7:00pm|Bayview Civic Hall

Raptor Management

7:00pm|Whatcom Museum's Old City Hall

Swinomish 2016 Village Books
Handling the truth


City Club Meeting

11:30am|Northwood Hall

Finger Painting for Grownups

3:00pm|Hops 'n Headz

Salish Sea Origins

4:00pm|Wilson Library

Marry Shelley's Frankenstein

6:00pm|Blaine Library

Wildlife Photography

6:00pm|South Whatcom Library

Group Run

6:00pm|Skagit Running Company

Winter Camping Basics


Group Run

6:00pm|Skagit Running Company

Basic Nutrients

6:30pm|Cordata Community Food Co-op

WJMAC Concert

7:00pm|Unity Spiritual Center


7:00pm|Village Books

Family Game Night

7:30pm|DUG Theater

see our complete calendar »

MBT Once Cascadia Weekly Subscribe Ad 1 MBT Ben Folds Swinomish 2016 Village Books Northwood Steak and Crab Andrew Subin Bellingham Farmer’s Market Everybody’s Store Artifacts Wine Bar Lydia Place