Mixed Media Fine Arts

Love (the Flame) & Respect (the Torch)

One of the basic truths about welding is: it’s hot. With oxy/acetylene, the flame rages 6,330 °F (Naked welding is best avoided - unless there are pressing circumstances). So, when I weld, a fair amount of leather is involved. At a minimum I wear a leather skirt or pants; leather gloves; and a leather hat. (Hair burns fast. Tie it up and put it under leather.) When I MIG/TIG or use my plasma, I add a leather jacket - plus high boots if I’m wearing a skirt. Of course, the hat gets switched out for a helmet. You can skimp on leather – I once apprenticed to a master who wore shorts, a t-shirt and flip-flops when he worked. And I get it! Welding is hot. Leather is hot. But I learned the hard way that you suffer the heat one way of the other. I have burned my clothes, my hair and enough skin to know that given the choice between perspiration and seared flesh, I choose to sweat. Reach across a pressurized flame once without leather protection and you’ll rethink the vegan options. Leather mutes the burn best. When rust gets into oxy mix, the flame can pop and spit. Flux Cored welding throws off slag as well ( that why I MIG with argon). Those little molten bits find vulnerable flesh more reliably than deer ticks. Denim seems like a good option but it really isn’t. When slag gets caught in something like denim, it smolders. Shoelaces present the same issue. Choose your clothing wisely and when using tanks, at least one flashback arrestor is essential. Just in case, keep a fire extinguisher nearby. TIG welding is cleaner. There is no splatter from the arc so, no spits or popping slag; but the UV rays will burn skin faster than a mid-day desert sun. Exposed skin (remember to cover your neck) will be bright red in no time, even with a long sleeve shirt, and radiation burns suck. There are other options - chaps, welding sleeves, kilts... whatever way you want to do it. The arc of my plasma hits around 30,000 ° F. Sweating is the least of my worries when my tool cuts thick steel like soft butter (that’s right boys). When I cut, I wear more leather than an S & M cowboy. You know the drill: Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes. Why devote a whole blog to leather? Because of a second basic truth: Burns hurt. Even small burns can really push you around - growing new skin is a slow business. Keep in mind that swagger makes you an easy mark for the flame. Respect the torch. No fear; but respect the torch. If you’re going to weld, you have to figure out what it means to love the heat - the sweat - the flame – the fire. As is true of love in all relationships, love madly but temper your passions with respect - or you’ll end up getting burned. And always wear lots of leather.