About Ironmonger Artworks
Up Cycled Steel Transformations or Scrap Yard Redemption
As a full time faculty member in Mechanical Engineering at a major university, I never believed that creativity involving a non-functional device would ever interest me. That was until about 5 years ago, when I suffered a very bad fall while hiking in a canyon with a colleague of mine. I fell from a canyon ledge almost 25 feet. All of my doctors were amazed that not only did I not suffer any paralysis but the fact that I was still alive was quite astonishing to them. I was given a second chance on life.
The two major areas of teaching that I am most involved with are in the areas of mechanical component design and metallurgy. After my fall, I became interested in finding old mechanical machine components that had served their time / purpose and were being cast out and into a scrap yard to be re-processed at a steel mill. Something drove me to find these pieces and transform them into something new and fresh, totally outside the realm of what they originally had been designed and manufactured to do. The task was to find appropriate / usable type pieces that could be disassembled and then reassembled into a totally different configuration representing some abstract vision and or form. Since these new forms had to be welded together the challenge became joining together different steel alloys to make one composite shape. During this transformation process, I purposely do not change or reshape the individual item so that it is still recognizable as to its previous purpose and function. Inherently, my background in both mechanical component design and metallurgy helped me achieve both the conceptual ideas and techniques used to join the pieces into one.
My pieces reflect a creative abstractness that was never apparent prior to my fall. As I create these various pieces, my mind envisions a major theme or vision as to what it might represent, however many people see them a bit differently than I might have originally intended, thereby giving the piece a whole new character and or personality. I believe this shows the diversification of both my pieces and the people who enjoy them. Through my welded steel artwork, I truly am giving a second lease on life for all these components that I have rescued from local scrap yards. In essence, their redeeming value as an individual element carries on as a tribute to the hard working men and women who originally formed and fabricated them into the functional pieces that they once were, only now in a more intriguing artful way. My hope is that the people viewing what I have coined “up-cycled steel transformations” would connect with the reality of the various elements within the piece while appreciating its new enhanced role as part of an overall visually pleasing piece of artwork.
-George D Gray