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#WhyWeWeld: Nate

Nate of @evil.arc has been welding for over two decades. With a career spanning the military, pipe welding, nautical work, and more recently, sheet metal, Nate has been there and welded it. YesWelder wanted to learn more about him...

The twelve-year-old welder

Nate was introduced to the welding craft at age 11, where a welder came to fix a piece of equipment on the farm he grew up on. “I was mesmerized, it was so awesome. I drove my dad nuts for months afterward, begging him for my own welder. It must have worked because that Christmas, he got me a 1940s craftsman welder!” he recalls. “It was the best education I could have hoped for.

My dad used to break stuff on purpose so I could have a go at fixing it.”
After spending his youth honing and refining his welding skills, Nate joined the military as a mechanic. “I didn’t think to mention I could weld,” he admits. It wasn’t until, on a mission, a vehicle suffered frame damage and needed welding. Nate stepped up and did the work, immediately got promoted and discovered welding as a career.

“I grew up on a farm in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by corn and cattle,” Nate explains. “Welding was just something you did to fix something. I never dreamed that you could make a living off it. The military really opened my eyes to the opportunities available, and when I left I went into pipe-welding.”

Pipe-welding presents plenty of challenges, but doing it all day, every day takes its toll. “When you’re doing the same thing all the time, it gets boring. Once you’ve mastered something, what’s left after that?” Nate muses. “I wanted to move onto something that I might be really, really good at.”

Large, functional art

Fed up with pipe-welding, Nate took a job with a local kitchen manufacturer. In his new job, he has the freedom to be creative. “There are no rules, we can have fun,” he explains. “We can create some incredible effects with different metals - the colors, the highlights, the lowlights - it looks more like marble! You can really give character to the metal with the details.” 

Working with copper, zinc, stainless steel, and nickel, Nate is part of a team creating bespoke kitchens. “I discovered I’m really good at making kitchen hoods. We take a ton of care over the work - they’re seriously expensive. You could buy a car for the same price - a cheap car, but still!” he laughs.

The diversity of the metals and work always presents a new challenge. Zinc is particularly difficult to work with because it’s so soft. “You could breathe on it and distort it - it’s tricky! The results are worth it though,” he tells me. “The quality is far beyond that in the mainstream. We use superior metals and each piece is unique. We can be creative and create these huge pieces of large, functional art for the center of peoples’ homes. That’s pretty amazing.”

Normal urns are boring

Alongside working full time, Nate found new potential for his creativity. He received a request fo make an urn. “It’s something I’d never done before, it happened by chance. The customer loved it - she cried. She encouraged me to pursue it.” 

“Normal urns are boring. People want something special for their loved ones, something unique. It’s a memorial, an automatic heirloom. It’s a small market, but I’ve made 3 so far and I’m just keeping it local for now.”

Adapt, adjust, keep on

In January 2020, Nate’s life changed forever. He lost his left eye in an accident. “The doctors said I lost 20% of my vision but that’s not true - it was more than that.” In the months that followed, he struggled with depth perception and had to adapt his ways of working.

“The skills haven’t changed - the way I see my work has,” Nate explains. “It’s a little frustrating having to focus more now on what would have been something simple before the accident. But my work is almost back to its usual quality and standard so I just have to adapt, adjust, and keep on. I can’t settle for less!”

More work by Nate.

Follow Nate on Instagram: @evil_arc

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