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A torch instead of a brush: welding as a form of art

When we think about art, we usually think about paintings. Picasso, Van Gogh, and Rembrandt are some of the names that spring to mind; the Mona Lisa, abstract tableaux, and offbeat sculptures flash before our eyes. If we swap the brush or chisel for a welding torch, another type of artistic creation emerges; a symbiosis of engineering and aesthetics: welded art. We’re going to meet three artists who couldn’t be more different. We’ll show you some artworks from a variety of disciplines, and reveal how long it takes to weld a tennis player.

Cars, buildings, bridges—in many areas of our life, welding plays a crucial role. Metals are joined together to produce complex constructions. It’s a technology that demands high levels of knowledge, experience, and skill. At the same time it’s also expressing art, a manual skill with unlimited potential in terms of aesthetics. One definition of art is, “The conscious use of aptitude and creative fantasy, particularly when creating aesthetic objects”. How broad the range of objects that welded art can create is exemplified by Rich Baker, Jordí Diez Fernandez, and Andrea Stahl—three creatives who have dedicated themselves to the world of sculptural metalwork and forged careers for themselves from their passion.

Welded art from nature

Welded art: wise owl

A graceful eagle, a wise owl, a majestic lion: Rich Baker has always been attracted to wild animals. The Canadian artist learned to weld at a young age and initially put his knowledge to good use in industry. Decades slipped by before he turned his attention to welded art. Another completely different art form stole his heart in the meantime: music. As a touring Country musician, he discovered what it meant to be free and independent, and how to let life lead you where it felt like leading you.

Following this formative period in his life, Rich went back to work as a welder. But after a while, he realized that he was no longer cut out to spend every day indoors working. “I’d been out on the road as a musician for so many years, and now I needed more freedom,” he recalled. You have to strike when the iron’s hot, so he spent a lot of time outdoors, allowing himself to be inspired by the animals and nature. Soon, he started welding sculptures of wild animals, which became the launchpad for a successful career as a metalwork sculptor.

Welded art: eagle

“My hands know what to do”

Rich Baker is an intuitive kind of guy who doesn’t work to any type of fixed plan. “It may sound crazy, but when I’m welding, my hands seem to know exactly what they have to do to make the piece look real natural when it’s finished. I’ve no idea where that comes from. The less I think about it when I’m working on something, the better it turns out,” is how Rich describes his approach.

His “impulsive welded art” has a single objective: to capture the grace of animals in their movements and being, and thus create an optical illusion. He uses specific methods to achieve a range of special color and luster effects. By spraying water onto his artworks, he can make the metal rust naturally. In other situations he might use a spray to add a yellow or orange hue to the mane of a lion, for example. Baker now has his own welding shop and lives the life he always dreamed of: surrounded by the idyllic Canadian countryside, free and untrammeled in his working day, and spurred on by his ideas for his next work of art from the animal kingdom.

The human form as a welded object

Person welds figure

From Canada let’s return to Europe, to Barcelona—a city of art, design, and architecture. This is where Jordí Diez Fernandez lives and works. Jordi is a sculptor, who has become a specialist in a particular type of welded sculpture. He describes his artistic activities as “the only job I’ve ever had” and his artistic predestination as “a sculptor from the day I was born”. He dedicated himself to sculpture shortly after obtaining his degree in the visual arts. When he first started he also employed other methods, such as woodcarving, but his total focus for the last 15 years or so has been welding technology.

Diez Fernandez is inspired by the classical art of the ancient world and the Renaissance, so it’s the human form that lies at the center of his work. “What I find most exciting in life are differing personalities. They’re what interest me, and I want my work to portray the energy they exude.” You couldn’t wish for a clearer statement of his artistic intent. He still retains his passion for welding itself: “The fact that I melt the metal and then finally bring it all back together again—that’s the technical aspect of my work—is something that still intrigues me, even after all these years.” Creating sculptures continues to be not just an artistic endeavor, it’s also a ”technological miracle”.

Photo: Xavier Pladellorens

Man welds a tennis player

A tennis legend in stainless steel

Three meters high, five meters wide: after yet another victory at the French Open, a monument to Spanish tennis pro Rafael Nadal was created in the form of stainless steel statue. The artwork was crafted by Diez Fernandez over the course of a year. “When I heard that a proposal had been floated to create a tribute to Nadal, I got in touch with the French tennis association and ended up being commissioned to make it,” explained Diez Fernandez. The artwork can now be admired at the Roland Garros stadium in Paris. Click here to experience the creative process behind this impressive work of art.

Many of his other sculptures can be enjoyed in various galleries, museums, and public places. The artist also sells to private collectors and is setting up his own studio in Centelles, Barcelona. He’s involved in art projects all over the world—in France, Germany, Singapore, the United Arabic Emirates, and Taiwan. But regardless of the work or where it’s located, it’s clear at first glance that it’s by Diez Fernandez. His distinctive style is evident throughout.

Photo: Xavier Pladellorens

Anyone called Stahl just has to weld steel

Artist Andrea Stahl works

“Stahl” is the German word for steel, so you could say that Andrea Stahl is an example of nominative determinism in action. Irrespective of whether it’s a metal sculpture or a stylish piece of steel furniture, welded artworks are her passion. What might sound like a professional name is in fact just a fortunate coincidence. “I was 19 when I started working with steel. What I hadn’t reckoned with is that my name would come to reflect my profession,” is Stahl’s delighted response to this “brilliant piece of marketing”. One thing soon becomes apparent when you chat with the Swiss artist: anyone who talks about their job with so much heart and passion has clearly found their calling. “It doesn’t feel like work,” is something that motivates her artistic endeavors every day. Stahl has now been creating welded artworks for 30 years and sees her job as the ultimate in fulfillment.

With her strapline “Stahl by Stahl”, her independence threw up new challenges—making a living as an artist has never been easy. One of the paths that set her on her way to becoming an artist was to run welding courses, which she did for around 20 years. This gave her a secure income stream and the support to start producing her own work. Initially, she only spent about 20% of her time on art, with the courses accounting for the other 80%. This has gradually reversed over the years, and means she can now focus more and more on the creative side.

Welded garden furniture

Welded art for the home

Stahl’s objective is to make something that’s heavy appear light. It could be a fire bowl, a chair, or a lamp—the combination of “beautiful” and “functional” is reflected in every one of her artistic items of furniture. She calls it “practical art”—and is repeatedly astonished by how quickly she’s able to create something new. “The most fascinating aspect of welded art is its speed. I can go into my workshop in the morning and come out at the end of the day with a table. The ability to create something very quickly, something that is also sturdy, continues to captivate me every day,” explains Stahl.

She came to specialize in furniture by chance: “I didn’t like any of the furniture that was around at the time. Nothing—beds, chairs, tables—really appealed to me, so I decided to make my own. Other people seemed to like my pieces, and that’s basically how I became a designer. To this day I really appreciate the combination of beauty and functionality.”

She displays her work at garden and design exhibitions in Switzerland, and has recently extended into France as well. “Personal interaction is very important to me, which is why I don’t have an online shop. I believe that artists should put themselves out there and talk to people directly. I need that impetus and I know it’s the approach that works for me,” concludes Stahl.


Whether in Canada, Spain, or Switzerland—artists such as Baker, Diez Fernandez, and Stahl are spreading the beauty of welded art around the world. They’re creating something new, making something heavy appear to float, and demonstrating how multi-faceted the craft of welding really is. Their work reveals how even an old and traditional joining process such as welding is still capable of springing surprises, stimulating discussion, and broadening horizons. Welding as an artform is intoxicating. It encourages us to look at things from a different perspective and gives us the opportunity to pause for breath in a world that appears to be spinning ever faster—a world that would be even more humdrum were it not for art.