Welding students at Northeast Technology Center are in full gear preparing for an upcoming chance to showcase their talent, and maybe even take home the prize. The American Welding Society – Tulsa Section (AWS – Tulsa) is hosting its first Welded Art Contest. The contest is open to students at local welding schools. Each class is allowed to submit one project that will be judged on welding, fabrication, creativity, overall design, and size requirements.
For each of the past few years, AWS – Tulsa has given away $5,000 in local scholarships and awards. As the chairman of the Tulsa section, Travis Weber’s goal for this year is to double that amount.
“We need to be creative with our fundraising efforts,” said Weber. “Our annual Shoot for Scholarships and Scholarship Golf Tournament really help, but I see this art contest as an added effort to increase fundraising – giving us more funds we can turn around and give back to students in need.”
As part of the fundraising piece of this competition, all projects turned in will be auctioned off at the AWS – Tulsa Annual Awards Banquet in February. But not before they are judged for competition by the Tulsa Section board members.
“The winning project will earn that class $500 to purchase any materials necessary for their shop/classroom,” said Weber. “I see this as an excellent opportunity to help build community, improve students learning experience with creativity, and to help raise money for the classroom.”
And that’s just what Payton Holder, a Pryor Campus adult welding student from Claremore, hopes to do. Holder spent one semester at graphic design school before deciding that it wasn’t for him. But a true artist never really stops creating. And it was that creative talent that caught the eye of his instructor.
"I actually saw him drawing in the classroom numerous times," said Willie Gaskins, Welding instructor. "I finally thought 'I have an artist here' and so I asked him if he'd like to enter the contest."
Holder jumped at the opportunity to put his natural talent to work with the welding skills he has learned at NTC. He also used this project as a chance to mix in some of his heritage. As a dedicated and involved member of the Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma, he wanted to do something to honor his family. He chose to create a very large and intricately detailed feather headdress. And with that, what began as a drawing on the concrete will soon be one of the largest metal art sculptures an NTC student has completed.
“Payton initially took some soapstone and went outside to the concrete," said Gaskins. "He used that to draw the entire design out. And then from there, he really took it and ran with it."
From start to finish Holder will have spent five weeks preparing his project. After drawing out the design and translating that into a pattern of sorts, he hand-cut all the pieces. He used a metal roll to round the ones that needed shaping. Then all pieces had to be grinded and polished to smooth away the rough edges from cutting and make them shiny. The last step in preparing the pieces was to use an engraving tool to make the detail on all the feathers. Holder credits his fellow welders for making it this far in the project.
"I can't take all the credit," said Holder. "I had a lot of helpers. Several of my classmates helped grind and polish all the feather pieces. There is so much detail in this that I couldn't do everything at once. So they were a big help. I would not have been able to meet the deadline without them."
Those helpers include classmates Aaron Williams, Ernesto Murillo, Eddie Stearn, Toby Troyer, Noah Leatherman and Garrett Borden.
The final step will be to use gas metal arc welding to connect everything together. Holder hopes to have all of that completed this week, just in time for the project submission deadline on January 20.
“I don't think anyone thought I'd make it this far,” said Holder. “But I’m really excited to get it put together and submit it. And when I am done with this one, I may even start a second piece to enter into the state Skills USA competition.”
Welding students from Instructor Josh Alley’s class at NTC’s Kansas Campus will also be competing in the contest.