As a design teacher at TSA, I have had little opportunity to work with steel. Tom Zitzelberger and Joel Washing changed that for me and several of my students. They came to my classroom, met with me and two other teachers and several of our students, offering to teach us how to work with steel in order to create sculptures. We have now been working together since January and it has been an incredible experience. Four of our students are currently working on sculptural pieces that will hopefully be installed in Gibsonburg, Ohio this summer for their “Sculpture in the Village” which is sponsored by the Toledo Area Sculptors Guild.
Our first step was for the students to create sketches for their individual ideas. Tom and Joel then sat with the students to discuss how their ideas could come to life. The next step was to get the ideas into a CAD program, which Tom helped us with. We then discussed how the sculptures could be created; the different processes that would be necessary for each student piece and what the student would need to do in order to create a specific area, or item for their sculpture. We discussed sizes and proportions, also, many of these sculptures are quite large, perhaps 6 – 8 feet in height or width.
We all then headed to Tom’s fabrication facility at QSI. The students have since learned the safety rules for working in a fabrication facility and how to weld, cut, bend, sand and grind steel. It was very interesting to see how quickly they all learned to use the tools.
One of the sculpture was in need of long, curved pieces of steel. For that piece, an armature had to be built in order to create those pieces. The student built the armature and welded all pieces into place. With the help of Tom and Joel, he was able to create six perfectly curved pieces of steel by heating the steel and bending it along the curve of the armature.
This has been the opportunity of a lifetime for these young artists, as they would never have been able to do this at TSA. This “hands on” experience, working in large scale, with steel has been incredible. The students have learned the processes, tools, and the time and energy needed to create something in an entirely different medium. However for me, the most important part of this experience has been to see how excited, happy and proud of their accomplishments each student has been.