Visual

Welding Rodeo

Wrangling scrap into sculpture

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Typically, rodeos focus on the domination of one species over another—whether it’s cowboys wrangling half-ton steers or bucking broncos successfully upending the two-legged homo sapiens who are trying to stay put in their saddles.

At the Bellingham Technical College’s (BTC) annual “Welding Rodeo,” however, it’s strictly human versus metal.

While it’s true that some of the concepts are similar—for example, both types of rodeos are designed to test the skill and speed of their competitors, each requires a certain amount of protective gear, and prizes are bestowed upon the victors—the end results of each hoedown soon make it clear that these events couldn’t be more different.

Creativity is the key to what separates one from the other. Over the past 14 years, as the “Welding Rodeo” has morphed from a small event designed to highlight BTC’s welding program and the campus itself into a two-day artistic extravaganza, the gathering has grown in both size and focus.

This year’s event, which takes place May 15-16 on the BTC campus, may be its most ambitious yet.

The action begins early Friday morning, when the blowing of a loud horn signals to the four-person teams of competitors from Bellingham and around Washington state that it’s time to sprint to an enormous pile of donated scrap metal and choose the materials that will complete their visions for the chosen “Fire and Ice” theme. For the next eight hours—with amateurs on Friday, and pros on Saturday—the teams will toil in their dedicated outdoor work stations to transform the hunks of steel into finished works of art that will be sold to the highest bidders at two separate auctions.

The “Fire and Ice” element of the creative competition is crucial. If the participants don’t actively incorporate the theme—and find something interesting to do with the 300-pound blocks of ice each team will be asked to use—they won’t qualify.

Seeing how these sculptures come together is the biggest draw for the members of the public who come to the “Welding Rodeo” to watch the welders wrangle their visions into being, but more and more activities have been added over the years that make the experience an interactive one, as well.

Among those offerings are an individual skills challenge for welders of all ages and skill levels; a chance for high school students to perform one free skill (additional skills are $5, and pre-registration is encouraged); and a public hands-on welding booth that will feature experienced student welders guiding you through the process of creating your own weld.

But that’s not all—not by a long shot. In addition to providing information about other Bellingham Technical College programs and professional opportunities in related industries, there’ll also be wood-carving demos by Whidbey Island artist Jessi Stack, blacksmith demos by Bob Thomas of Sunset Forge and other trade professionals, and a chance to watch an American Culinary Federation-sanctioned “Culinary Competition” taking place during the same time as the “Welding Rodeo.”

To go along with the aforementioned “Fire and Ice” theme, the food-focused event will also include an ice-carving competition—so instead of watching sparks fly, you’ll be watching carvers create works of art with blocks of frozen water. Any way you look at it, it’s not your typical day at the rodeo.

West Coast Wellness
More Visual...
Stars and Sea
Seeking the elements in Edison

In Edison this month art patrons can enjoy two excellent exhibits: Smith & Vallee Gallery features the work of Steve Jensen, and graphic works and paintings by Thomas Wood can be viewed at i.e. gallery.

The contrast is profound. Wood is a man who knows many things, while Jensen knows one…

more »
By the Numbers
Artists for Planned Parenthood

A quick look at a “by the numbers” list published last year by Planned Parenthood shows why the century-old health care provider is a force to be reckoned with.

For example, in 2016 the number of women, men and young people worldwide who were provided with sexual and reproductive health…

more »
Uplifted
An artist without limitations

At 40, Beth Anna Margolis is comfortable with who she is. She loves nature and her parents, touts kindness to others, and—even when people call her names—is quick to find the good in everybody she meets.

“I’m nice to you, so please be nice to me,” Margolis says in a missive about her…

more »
Events
Today
Sounds by the bay

9:41am

Boating Center Open

12:00pm|Community Boating Center

Bard on the Beach

5:00pm|Vanier Park

Fatal Attraction

7:30pm|Anacortes Community Theatre

Noises Off

7:30pm|Bellingham Theatre Guild

The Emperor of the Moon

7:30pm|Maritime Heritage Park

Chuckanut Writers Conference

10:00am|Whatcom Community College

Plover Ferry Rides

12:00pm|Blaine Harbor

Plover Rides

12:00pm|Blaine Harbor

Sin & Gin Tours

5:30pm|Downtown Bellingham

Keys for Kids

5:30pm|La Conner Flats

Off the Charts!

7:00pm|Mount Baker Theatre

Fool Me Twice

8:00pm|Upfront Theatre

Ferndale Breakfast

8:00am|American Legion Hall

Lynden Breakfast

8:00am|Lynden Community Center

Padden Triathlon

8:30am|Lake Padden Park

Twin Sisters Farmers Market

9:00am|North Fork Library, Nugents Corner

Anacortes Farmers Market

9:00am|Depot Arts Center

Mount Vernon Farmers Market

9:00am|Riverfront Plaza

Sumas Community Days

10:00am|Sumas City Park

What's the Point?

10:00am|Point Whitehorn Marine Reserve

Imagine This! Home and Landscape Tour

10:00am|Whatcom County

Bellingham Farmers Market

10:00am|Depot Market Square

Blaine Gardeners Market

10:00am|H Street Plaza

York Community Farm Celebration

11:00am|York Community Farm

Jelly and Sorbet Class

11:00am|Christianson's Nursery

The Art of Bonsai

11:00am|Azusa Farm & Gardens

Farm to Glass

12:00pm|BelleWood Acres

Plover Rides

12:00pm|Blaine Harbor

Plover Ferry Rides

12:00pm|Blaine Harbor

A Japanese Touch

1:00pm|North Fork Library

Bellingham Beer & Live Music Festival

2:00pm|North Bellingham Golf Course

High Tea

3:00pm|Majestic Inn

Nooksack River Walk

3:00pm|Horseshoe Bend Trailhead

Summer Moments Party and Potluck

5:00pm|Matzke Fine Art Gallery and Sculpture Park

Run Like a Girl

5:30pm|Riverwalk Plaza

Tiny TED Talks

7:00pm|Point Roberts Library

Lester and Hyldahl
Tomorrow
Sounds by the bay

9:41am

Boating Center Open

12:00pm|Community Boating Center

Bard on the Beach

5:00pm|Vanier Park

Noises Off

7:30pm|Bellingham Theatre Guild

Plover Rides

12:00pm|Blaine Harbor

Plover Ferry Rides

12:00pm|Blaine Harbor

Off the Charts!

7:00pm|Mount Baker Theatre

Plover Ferry Rides

12:00pm|Blaine Harbor

Plover Rides

12:00pm|Blaine Harbor

Rabbit Ride

8:00am|Fairhaven Bicycle

Gardens of Note

10:00am|Mount Vernon

Vaxxed Bus Stop

10:00am|Civic Stadium, Bloedel Donovan

Forest Walk

11:00am|Fairhaven Park

Plover Ferry Rides

12:00pm|Blaine Harbor

Local efforts step up to protect Salish Sea orcas

12:00pm

Plover Rides

12:00pm|Blaine Harbor

La Conner Live!

1:00pm|Gilkey Square

Audubon at the Museum

2:00pm|Whatcom Museum's Old City Hall

Peace Weavers

4:00pm|Village Books

Refugee Support

6:30pm|Community Food Co-op

Cascadia Weekly Subscribe Ad 1 Lester and Hyldahl
Monday
Sounds by the bay

9:41am

Boating Center Open

12:00pm|Community Boating Center

Bard on the Beach

5:00pm|Vanier Park

Plover Rides

12:00pm|Blaine Harbor

Plover Ferry Rides

12:00pm|Blaine Harbor

Plover Rides

12:00pm|Blaine Harbor

Plover Ferry Rides

12:00pm|Blaine Harbor

Pakistani Cuisine

6:30pm|Community Food Co-op

Open Mic

7:00pm|Village Books

Poetrynight

8:00pm|Bellingham Public Library

Guffawingham

9:30pm|Green Frog

see our complete calendar »

Village Books Northwood Steak and Crab Lester and Hyldahl Bellingham Farmer’s Market Trove Cascadia Weekly Subscribe Ad 1