“Steel is in my blood,” says artist Margaret Jacobs with a nod to her Native American lineage. “Generations of Mohawks have had careers as ironworkers—they were famous for helping shape the New York skyline.”
Steel may be strong, but it’s far from unforgiving.
In fact, Jacobs, a sculptor and jewelry maker, started incorporating steel into her work because of its incredible versatility as a material. “I needed something that had a structural and visual strength while still letting me achieve delicate, organic lines,” she says.
And some of the new freedoms she found in the art of metalsmithing, she believed other artists, especially women, could find as well. So when AVA opened the doors to its new Sculptural Studies building last year, Jacobs took the next step and created a workshop: Welding for Women.
The first rule of Welding for Women? Women can weld.
Acknowledging that obstacles have traditionally existed for women in the metalworking field, Jacobs says she has structured the class around a holistic view of welding. “Along with learning the various welding processes, we discuss other important details such as tool choice, tips for working in a group environment, and safety gear.” Above all, she wants the class to be a safe space for her students to ask questions and make mistakes, all towards building a new set of skills.
Jacobs seems to have tapped a wellspring of aspiring welders. This February’s class of Welding for Women filled up so fast, AVA is offering an additional Welding for Women workshop over a weekend in March!
But is Jacobs surprised by the popularity of the class?
“I’m not surprised!” she says. “Welding is a process that has such an allure; it’s an exciting medium to work with and seems very mysterious if you aren’t familiar with it.”
Offering it as a weekend-long workshop has helped, too, she says, to allow students to get an idea of the basic welding processes, to gain momentum in their continuing artistic pursuits.
“And to gain confidence,” adds Jacobs, “in working
with fire and metal.”
There's still room in Welding for Women on March 10/11, so sign up today!