Fact: You can absolutely LOVE what you do and make a living doing it! Hard to believe? Well, you haven’t tapped into the world of badass welders! Whether you are a member of the welder nation or a huge fan of their work, you have got to check out the newest Arc 2 Art project by the American Welding Society who recruited two badass female professional welders to collaborate on creating a metal-based sculpture.
Stephanie Hoffman of Underground Metal Works and Barbara Parsons, professionally known under the moniker Barbie the Welder, came together to work on this exciting project. With the project taking place in the middle of the pandemic, these talented welding artists were able to collaborate from a distance, each producing part of the final artwork.
“The idea for this project came from a former President of the American Welding Society asking if I could do some sort of collaboration with Barbie the Welder,” recalls Stephanie. “We reached out to her with the idea of doing some sort of build. After lots of back and forth and some really junky ideas… We finally landed on recreating the Statue of Liberty as a welder. I had actually been sitting at my desk trying to think of a cool design for something and I had drawn a few stickers for the AWS a few months prior for FabTech. One of the stickers I had drawn was of Lady Liberty as a welder. I looked down and saw the sticker and thought ‘this is it!’ It is one of the most iconic pieces of sculpted art in the US and it happens to be a female.”
Stephanie and Barbie decided on re-imagining Lady Liberty as a welder, with a helmet, torch and a code book. The project to create the Metal Maiden garnered a lot of interest in the creative welding community, and the entire process was shown online. Thanks to these leading female welders both having huge followings, their regular posts and videos online allowed their expansive fan base to experience the journey of creating this welded art piece in real-time. By sharing the fabrication process, it became a phenomenal journey to take part in as people watched these two collaborate even through the challenges of the COVID-19.
“Being in two totally different states creating a piece of sculptured metal art was really outside my comfort zone. Thankfully we were both super open with progress and sharing struggles and photos along the way – really relying on each other at times,” Stephanie said. Equally happy with the collaboration, Barbie echoes, “This is my first collaboration with a welder. Collaborating from two different shops was crazy but Stephanie is excellent at what she does and we had great communication and that made it easy to hit the numbers we needed to hit to get all the proportions right when everything came together!”
Together, each of their specific skill sets blended seamlessly, welding and fabricating their individual sections of the sculpture before joining them together and creating the final piece.
Stephanie says, “It was 3 plus months of blood, sweat and tears creating it. Barbie tackled the body, arms and head. Her pieces were all made from steel. I tackled the base, helmet, code book, gold leafing and engraving on the copper panels. My pieces were all made from aluminum and copper. Together we worked around the clock for a week to sculpt the flag which is made from steel round rod.”
Part of the project is focused on showing welding in a new light – far from being simply industrial and practical, it can also be very creative and artistic. “I believe that showcasing welding through art will bring more people to see welding as an art,” Barbie says. “All the welders out there are artists, although most of them would never call themselves that. What they do is an art, a delicate craft that takes thousands of hours to master.”
When two deeply creative and accomplished individuals like Stephanie and Barbie came together to create a piece like this, there was never any doubt that the end result would be incredible. The sculpture was unveiled to fans in a video at the end of the project, and it was named Metal Maiden after a suggestion from a fan.
The welders both hope the project will showcase the creativity and art in the welding industry. “It’ll hopefully get more people interested in welding,” Barbie says. “Welding is an incredible career with so many opportunities and we need more people who love working with their hands and building stuff.”
Check out this awesome video below to watch the entire process!