Heavy Metal

From sparks to sculpture



WHAT: Welding Fab Week Open House and Auction Kickoff
WHEN: 3-7pm Fri., March 22
MORE: The works can be bid on through 8am Mon., April 1
WHERE: Morse Center, Bellingham Technical College
COST: Entry is free
INFO: or

WHAT: “That’s So Metal”
WHEN: 12-5pm Tues.-Sat., through March 30
WHERE: Make.Shift Art Space, 306 Flora St.
COST: Entry is free

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

A passion for extended guitar solos and amplified distortion won’t be a requirement for those attending a couple of metal-focused exhibits on display in Bellingham through the month. Instead, all that’s needed is the capacity to appreciate what happens when heat and sparks help welders transform the malleable medium into works of art.

Custom-made for heavy metal fans, an Open House and Auction Kickoff that are part of “Welding Fab Week” takes place at Bellingham Technical College (BTC) from 3-7pm Fri., March 22 at the school’s Morse Center. For the second year, students from the Welding Technology program will have spent the previous week working in three- to five-member teams using scrap metal to create sculptures or creative fabrications inspired by a Pacific Northwest theme.

Since deviating from the longtime “Welding Rodeo”—a two-day event emphasizing speed that drew both professional and amateur teams from around the region to the campus and brought attention to the various programs available to local community members at BTC—organizers have found that giving the students more time to plan and fabricate their works results in the finished projects being of higher quality.

Even if you can’t make it to the open house to peruse and place a bid on the completed Fab Week sculptures, it will still be possible to check them out online or in the common corridor at the Morse Center in the week following the event. Make a bid by 8am Mon., April 1, and you just might find yourself with a one-of-a-kind work of art. Pieces will go to the highest bidder, and funds raised through the auction will go back into the welding program as well as to student scholarships.

Local students eager to try their hand at welding will want to put Wed., May 22 on their calendars, when BTC will host a High School Skills Challenge Day. The competition will feature competency challenges for individual welders as well as a team sculpting competition, and is open to all regional high school students. (Please register in advance, as space is limited.)

In addition to viewing permanent pieces from prior Welding Rodeos that are spaced throughout Bellingham Technical College grounds, those wanting to check out even more of the heavy duty art form can make their way to Make.Shift Art Space through March, where an exhibit dubbed “That’s So Metal” is currently filling the gallery space with works from local metalworkers and welders. Participating artists include Sara Thornton, AnonyMouse, Phoenix Booth, Mark Allyn, and more.

One sure way to support both the burgeoning and established artists showing work at BTC and Make.Shift is by upping the volume of heavy metal artworks in your personal collection. Using your purchasing power in this way is sure to light a spark—both for future students considering their options, and for artists who are already holding the torch.

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