Michigan metal worker, Kate Silvio, has appeared on the blog many times over the past few years. She’s a talented, strong, capable artist with a great outlook on life. It’s my hope to pass on a bit of her wisdom with you.
Q: What advice do you have for women looking to get into metal work?
A: Advice that I have to women who are looking to get into metal work is the same to that I would give to men looking to getting into metal. Every interaction with another artist/maker/welder is an opportunity to learn. Be prepared to spend a lot time in the studio and be open to critique and instruction from mentors as well as peers. Also, have heroes… you need to know what’s going on and what has gone on in the art world to be able to operate in it.
Advice I would give directly to women is to take as many precautions as you can to physically protect your body from any possible long-term side effects of welding and fabrication. As uncomfortable as some respirators, goggles, face shields, earmuffs etc. can be, it is extremely important that your first priority is personal safety. Unfortunately, there is very little, if any, research on long-term effects on breathing welding fumes and dust on women and you don’t want to be that statistic.
Q: What common misconceptions do people have about metal work?
A: The only common misconception that I can think of is that people assume that women aren’t interested in metalwork or can’t do what men can do in a shop. I taught students how to weld for 12 years and I often found that women picked up the skill quicker because they had a much more sensitive touch and were more conscious of technique. Not to say that I didn’t know a lot of great male welders!
Q: What is the best part of what you do?
A: The best part of what I do is the idea that someone would want to wake up everyday and look at something that I’ve created…
Q: What inspires you?
A: I draw a lot of inspiration from my girls… the freedom that my four year old has to create is astounding. She isn’t bound by material, technique, skill, or insecurities… she just makes. It’s good for me to remember to forget everything.
Want to see more? Take a look at Kate’s work here.