TOLEDO MAGAZINE

The art of welding: Owens class finds softer side of steel

3/4/2013
BY ROD LOCKWOOD
BLADE STAFF WRITER
The intermediate artistic welding class at Owens Community College is taught by James Havens, a retired Ironworker.
The intermediate artistic welding class at Owens Community College is taught by James Havens, a retired Ironworker.

Detail of a work by Pamela Reithmeier.
Detail of a work by Pamela Reithmeier.

Walk into the Owens Community College Intermediate Artistic Welding class and be prepared for the sound of sizzling bacon frying.


Just don’t expect anyone to fix you breakfast.

The distinctive noise is part of the welding process as students grind away, sparks flying all over the place, and work to turn an industrial process into distinctive art.

“It’s organized chaos,” said Jim Gilmore, Owen’s chairman of diesel and welding technologies.

PHOTO GALLERY: The Art of Welding

“[Calling it a class is] kind of an oxymoron. You have 14 people doing their own thing, working on their own processes, so as an instructor you’re dealing with them one on one.”

The intermediate class has been taking place for nine years and it often fills up, he said. Students receive two credit hours for it and the fee is $145, so the total cost is about $500, but many repeat the elective class as they work on projects, Mr. Gilmore said.

He said one of the instructors, Jim Havens, proposed the idea because he is a welder who also is interested in the artistic side of the work.

“It was just to exercise the creative side of people and at the same time expose them to welding as a trade for what it is and see if there’s more interest there,” Mr. Gilmore said.

The students work in a variety of formats from what is called mild steel to stainless and brazing with brass and steel.

The instructors don’t lecture or stand before the group and talk, but instead stroll around to the welding booths and offer suggestions. “He’s giving them ideas and directions and really kind of honing their technique depending on the application,” Mr. Gilmore said.

In addition to the four-hour intermediate class that is on Sundays, there is an introductory class for people whose skills are not as developed. For information on the classes, which are held in the college’s Welding Design Center, call 567-661-7729.

Contact Rod Lockwood at: rlockwood@theblade.com or 419-724-6159