My need to rescue and restore unloved machinery leaves me with a large pile of cast off old parts. In addition, I occasionally cannot resist acquiring interesting looking pieces of old metal. We have a large yard, and my wife is a fanatic gardener, and happily seems to like me to try to keep my pile down by making her goofy yard decorations. She has been on a hiking trip in Italy for a couple of weeks, and since she is due home tonight , I spent today welding up a bird for her yard as a welcome home present. It is big enough to watch after her when she is sitting on our deck and reading.
Here is a photograph of the result. It is pretty skinny because it had to be over ten feet tall, since the deck is nine feet off of the ground, and it didn’t have much room to stand. The head was made out of a couple of pieces of sheet metal that once covered the sides of the radiator of an old tractor. It looks a little like a dog head, but there are, after all, bird dogs. The neck is a grain auger, the body is a small tank, the wings are sheet metal, the legs and feet are pipe, and the flamboyant tail was someone’s failed attempt to make headers for an automobile engine, which I rearranged for my purpose. It is shown on the back view to the right.
The photograph below shows it happily waiting to watch over my wife. It is not a sculpture. It is a crude goofy bird for my wife made quickly from discarded metal scraps.
I have been doing a lot of work on my computer recently, in particular trying to write a number of things and sort several years of data on it— throw away what is redundant or no longer needed, and organize the rest. I cannot express how much more pleasure and sense of accomplishment I got from making a silly bird for my wife, than all of this computer work. Since I am retired, I don’t know why I just don’t work with my hands all of the time, since after all, much of our several million years of evolution have been spent doing so and it feels very good to use this ability. I must be trapped by my many years of working in the university and the fact that the society in which I live places a greater value on facility with the mind than facility with the hands.
In any case, at this moment I am in such a good mood that I think I will build my wife an ant. If any of you would like to share this feeling, go buy yourself a welder, if you don’t have one, and learn to use it. I once had a neighbor whose elderly wife had been a shipboard welder during World War II. She was a wondrously confident and capable woman, undoubtedly because she was such a good welder, and I was in awe of her because she could stick (arc) weld over her head. She would come over and borrow my welding equipment to show off her skill, and I would jealously admire her ability —good for both of us.
When I retired, I had an oxy-acetylene gas welding rig, which one should have for heating things even if one does not weld, and an old arc welder. At that point I was wondering whether I needed a new pickup for the family, because the one I had was more than well used. But instead I bought myself a mig (wire) welder, a tig (tungsten inert gas) welder which also does stick welding, and as a pure luxury, a plasma cutter. Much cheaper than a new pickup, and vastly better for my mental health. Fortunately, a few years later my old pickup reached the end of its life, so now I have both welding equipment and a new pickup. Patience pays off.