Archive for July, 2017

Making an Elephant from Fire, Sweat, and Steel

What is something you have always wanted to do but for whatever reason haven’t done yet?  One of my things is to become a welder.  Now, let me preface everything I am about to say with this:

Welding one time does not a welder make


For father’s day my wife got me a gift certificate for a welding class with the Tampa welding art studio Rustic Steel.  Not sure what to expect, I came to the class with a pair of welding gloves my wife got me as well as some long sleeves and a few ideas in my head dancing around like sugar plum fairies.  Those bouncing ideas congealed into my final vision,  to make a Stee-lephant (get it, steel + elephant).


Spending my first 40 minutes, I went through all the metal in the Rustic Steel warehouse bins, shelves, and tables to select my assortment of gears, chrome sheet, sprockets, and such.  Once I had a table full of various metal shapes the design began to take form in my head.  It would have this spoke/sprocket like head and butt with a round curved belly.  It was incredible to watch my design come to life with each piece I welded.  I wanted my elephant to have long spindly legs like the elephants painted by Salvador Dali.  To get those legs I took slim pieces of steel and cut them shorter and began to bend them by hand.  After the pieces were bent to the desired shapes I welded the various individual pieces back together to create the effect I desired.  My final elephant weighs in at somewhere between 25-30 lbs and sits in the front entrance inside my house to greet any visitors.


Are there better elephants (or stee-lephants) out there?  I’m sure of it.  The thing is, this is mine, and I am very proud of the effort I put into it and I’m happy with how it came out.  All of this is thanks to my wonderful wife for knowing me so well, this was the perfect gift!


I have future ideas in my head scratching and clawing to get out, but the next step for me is to decide if I want to begin saving for my own welding equipment. Also, if anyone has any help / suggestions / ideas of how best to get your own welding rig let me know in the comments. I’ve begun looking on craigslist for a reasonably priced used rig, but I’m not educated enough in welding to know what price ranges are “reasonable” for used equipment.  I also am not entirely sure what kind of equipment a beginner welder would need (it seems like from my initial research that the sky is the limit on what you can spend).

Here is an Imgur gallery of the creation of my Elephant

Time to write again

Something that I believe I’ve never appreciated when I was younger was the concept of simplistic and understandable communication.  While in school (especially middle school and high school) I believed that more was better.  Rather than boiling my ideas or concepts into their most fundamental and basic structure I would use complicated and unnecessary language to appear to have a LOT to say about something which often was very simple.


While communicating clearly is a valuable tool, the ability to make something beautiful can complement an important message as long as you choose to use techniques (be they written words, powerful quotes, or interesting videos) to make your message more impactful.  When I was in the military my words carried their own gravitas.  This was, in my opinion, because of the historic time of my writing, as well as the emotion I was conveying.  Since then, I have not felt the same motivation to write and communicate on a personal level.  Part of this is due to my own struggle with what happened to as a soldier and what Iraq represented for me.  Having some distance from that time and from the complicated and nuanced mental (and physical) luggage I was encumbered by, I now have greater appreciation for what I went through when I was such a young man.


Now, you may be asking yourself why I’m writing this (ironically over-complicated) message.  I am also asking myself why I am writing, and I believe I have my answer.  I am writing simply to write.  Over the last decade or so I’ve written quite a bit, but post Iraq most of my writing has been for work or college.  Writing for myself was one of the most cathartic things I have ever done, but we (I’m using the royal we when I really mean I here) often make excuses to do those things which are good for us.  The same holds true for working out (for me).  Speaking of working out, I’ve begun swimming 1000 meters about 2 times a week.  Never have I liked running so swimming is a great mental compromise for my cardio health.


Perhaps you have enjoyed my writing in the past (and maybe you are even enjoying this rambling piece), while I do write for your sake I want to make it clear that on a much deeper and meaningful level I actually write for myself and my own sake.  My children have even enjoyed a bit of my fiction writing and have asked me to finish the story I once began for them.  Perhaps with that too, I will find my motivation and finish it, or who knows, I could begin a new story and see where such a story takes me.  If you have made it this far then you may be wondering where my simple and concise message is.  Perhaps someday I will get to such a message, but for today you will have to accept this instead.