Staci Martinez is a fabricator, metal artist and carpenter. As a multi-skilled tradeswoman, Staci has experience with different materials and work environments.
We wanted to learn about her work as a welder, and how it compares to working with other materials.
Here's our interview:
Can you tell us about your background and how you became so passionate about the trades?
I love to work with my hands. Whether it's carpentry work, artwork, or metal fabrication. It's all a form of art... to me. My brother's and husband are tradesmen, so I've always been around the many different trades.
Did you study welding as a student or an apprentice, or did you take up the skill later in life? If you’re newer to the world of welding, can you tell us about the work you’ve previously done and how it inspired you to become a fabricator and metal artist?
I took up welding later in life, but I didn't learn traditionally through trade school. I was taught by my boss at my previous employer. I instantly took to it and fell in love with metal work. Curiosity is what led me to find my inspiration in welding.
I knew there had to be more women welders, so I Googled it. Barbie the welder, was the first to pop up, and I've followed her since. She sparked the artist up in me. I knew I could do what she was doing as well.
Staci with a sculpture made by Barbie The Welder.
Of course, working with wood is different from working with metals. Can you give us some insight into how your experience with the one material informs your work with the other, or would you say that working with the two materials are entirely separate skills?
Working with wood and metal are two different skills, in my opinion. Once you chop a piece of wood, that's it. It can't really be fixed. Metal, you can always add to it. Although they both can be abraded and finished smoothly and transformed chemically...
Of course, many finished custom goods contain both wood and metal. Can you tell us about any work you’ve done combining the two materials?
I'm currently working on two projects, combining wood and metal. They're both commission pieces. One will be for a fireplace mantle and the other for a range top. The architectural pieces that I make are handrails. They're typically custom, so I'm not recreating someone else's work or mimicking big store pieces.
What inspired you to start making metal art?
*I've always known I was an artist, but welding brought out my true form of what I felt it meant to be an artist. A lot of things and people inspire me. As mentioned before, my first inspiration for metal art was Barbie the Welder.
Can you give us an overview of the similarities and differences between the design process of more creative and artistic pieces and that of more utilitarian items, like hand railings? Which type of project do you prefer working on, or is it too tough to choose?
Designing or creating pieces in either field takes about the same amount of creativity. Just one is more technical over the other. I actually would prefer to do anything I had full creativity over. Wood, metal fabrication, or metal sculpting.
You recently shared on Instagram that you’re judging a high school welding contest. For our younger readers, can you share some advice about what you believe it takes to make it in the trades?