Put down the iPhone and pick-up a torch. Geoff Lautzenheiser, Colorado Mountain College welding instructor, invites you inside the Leadville campus’ Rattling Jack Welding Shop for a 3-day Decorative and Artistic Welding workshop.
Welders are often portrayed as burly, blue-collar men working in the manufacturing or construction industry – but it’s time for this stereotype to end. Though welding does have incredible industrial applications, there’s another ‘softer’ side to this skilled trade.
“Students will learn basic welding and safety knowledge first,” says Geoff, who learned to weld while growing up on his family’s farm, “Then we’ll use those hard skills for creative purposes, functional or purely decorative hat racks, wine racks, coat racks, frames, wine glass holders, yard art, or other decorative pieces are all possible projects.”
The Decorative and Artistic Welding workshop is a fun way to learn a new skill. Students can come in with their own ideas or look for inspiration in the materials. Geoff will provide some metal materials, like railroad spikes and horseshoes, for a small fee. Students are also encouraged to bring in their own metals or woods to incorporate into their designs.
“I want students to discover the artistic side of welding, and the creative side of themselves,” says Geoff, “I hope students come in the welding shop, and open their minds. Maybe they’ll see a railroad spike and say – Wow, I can make a frame out of that!”
Geoff finds enjoyment from exploring the surrounding areas of Leadville, finding non traditional items, and reusing them in small welding art projects. “Horseshoes, railroad spikes, old nuts and bolts. Basically anything I find out there that interests me.” One of his most recent artistic welding projects is a turtle made from railroad spikes and bolts.
“Welding is a skilled trade, so any students who come in my shop is going to be leaving here with a skill,” says Geoff, “The welding trade is on the decline. Less people are joining the industry than those retiring. That motivates me to bring in a new generation, and teach them to look away from technology and develop more technical skills.”