This semester I've had the privilege of studying sculpture in a studio setting with Beverly Semmes and her students at NYU's Barney Building. A perk of being in the class has been gaining access to the school's wood and metal shop.
Today I met Gustavo Velasquez, a sculptor and professor at the Steinhardt School. He taught me the ins and outs of the shop, as well as how to use all the equipment safely. He seemed relieved when I told him I had experience in building and fabrication - he just needed to fill in some gaps.
Luckily, the bulk of my time with him was spent in learning how to MIG weld - something I've never done before. From what I learned, timing is everything in this craft. Make a zig zag bead at just the right pace, and you've got yourself a good weld. Varying the rate at which the welding rod comes out makes a big difference.
One of the strangest things to get used to was that moment between flipping the welding hood down and actually beginning to weld. Until that bright tip glowed, I was essentially blind. Like Luke Skywalker, I had to "use the force" and trust I was hitting the right spot, making sure to line it up properly beforehand.
He set me up to get some practice in, and I must say that while my welds were still sloppy, they held up well. It's only a matter of time and practice before I really get the hang of it. Here's the first piece I did: