Meet Allison Meade, Columbus Idea Foundry scrap-metal artist, welding teacher, and owner of the Old Soul Studio. We asked her a few questions about herself and her work. Here’s Alli in her own words:
Technically, Springfield. I moved around so much growing up, you could throw a dart on a map of Ohio and I’ve lived there. Columbus has been home since I moved out at 17.
I have a degree in Automotive Technology from CSCC. I’ve also taken some great welding courses at Columbus State. Most of what I’ve learned, though, has come from diving in head-first and trying things. The Idea Foundry has sort of become a DIY institution for me, where I’ve learned things I’d never thought to try, just by watching others or taking a class… or just experimenting with something until it works. I feel like it’s a lot less important to have a formal education these days. At one time I really wished I’d taken a more traditional path with my college education, but I did what I enjoyed and I’m pretty happy about that. I also learned a lot from working in body shops and garages. Old car guys aren’t always the best teachers, but they have a tremendous amount of knowledge. If you can get them to open up and share it, it’s priceless.
What do you make/do?
I’m a welder, primarily. I build furniture and sculpture out of scrap metal and vintage auto parts. I also paint, write, do photography and various other things. There’s not much I haven’t tried, though I find the most enjoyment out of welding and building things out of metal. I also love to teach welding. The new women’s welding classes at the CIF has been so much fun… I look forward to teaching more people and sharing my passion.
What is your favorite project?
So far my favorite new project is my aluminum handbags. They were a huge challenge to create, but I’m glad I worked outside my comfort zone and figured it all out. They turned out pretty awesome and I’ve had a lot of folks interested in purchasing them.
Describe your process?
For the handbags, I used aluminum, leather, and rivets. After shearing the aluminum to the appropriate size, each side was engraved on the ShopBot CNC router at the CIF. The aluminum was spray painted and sanded to enhance the engraving. I then cut the leather sides and handles to fit the shape of the bag, and riveted them to the aluminum. It sounds pretty simple, but it is labor-intensive. I’m really excited to start producing these on a larger scale and filling custom orders.
What inspires you?
Old decaying cars in junkyards, street art, things/ people/ experiences from my past… However, I also find a lot of inspiration in everyday life. Simple awareness can bring a lot of unexpected inspiration. Living downtown is entertaining and always inspiring if you really pay attention to your surroundings.
What project do you have in the back of your mind that you really want to do “someday”?
A scrap metal sculpture of Tom Waits has been on my mind for some time. He’s my hero and the man is a machine. He deserves to be honored in a way that only rusty old gears and barbed wire can do justice. I should start that soon…
Alli’s welding business, Old Soul Studio, is located at The Columbus Idea Foundry where she also teaches the popular Women’s Welding class. Check out her October 2012 interview on the holdfastmotors blog.
Contributors: Nathan Allen