Industrial craftsman creates “things of beauty”

Kevin Morin Eldred Passage boating

(Courtesy of Guest Blogger Kevin Morin)

What do you do for a living?

I’m mostly retired. After my divorce, I left the business that I built in the ex-wife’s hands but I’m still a co-owner. Age-wise (later 60s), I have some health-related limitations due to welding work for many years in the oil field. I do CAD work, wood and metal sculpture and some welded aluminum boat work but not 9-5 five days per week.

How did you get into art and making?

I’ve always been interested in drawing from before I went to government school in the 50s. My father introduced me to tool use, and by my teens I’d learned to build models of balsa wood of my own design. In the 70s, I apprenticed with a local welder and then bought my first power supply and began experimenting, learning other modes of welding after starting with stick. As I worked in the trades I realized I could use my trade skills to build art or furniture; so, I began to experiment in those areas- eventually I began to build welded aluminum fishing boats for the local salmon fishery.

What do you design and make?

I’ve designed houses for friends, furniture, sculptural pieces, vehicles for specific tasks, welded aluminum boats from 3-feet long to 36-feet long, and built all these items in wood or metal over the years.

How did you learn to do this?

Most often, I’ve read on a tool use subject, then purchased a modest-cost version of that set of tools from wages, then worked with the tools to increase my skills and finally invested in more sophisticated and higher-precision tools, and that progression was parallel to the quality improvement in my projects. I have worked in the welding trade in both oil and gas as well as boat building, and I did some finished carpentry/joinery in both the commercial and housing market, as well as designing and installing the interior of a few live-aboard-sized boats.

What artists, designers or makers do you most admire?

I don’t know the names of the people whose work I most admire. I may see their work once in a while online (Pinterest) or receive an email with someone’s project pictures. However, I can’t say I really know their names but often can recall their ‘hand’ when I see another piece of that artist’s work.

What inspires you?

Like most people who imagine ideas of objects to build, I have a semi-constant stream of ideas that appear as color 3D images in my mind’s eye. I believe that my ideas come to me from outside my own perception but not sure the source except that is seems to be external. Shape is the primary influence that inspires me. I like flowing streamlined shapes. They appeal to my aesthetic sense of design.

So I’m inspired by the grace of the forms of animals in motion, as well as the grace of the lines of some vehicles or furniture to design and build my take on those flowing forms.

What do you do when you aren’t working or making art?

Not much work these days. Arthritis slows me down. I spend lots of time drawing on the PC using various CAD applications. I’m learning to cook and find that enjoyable to prepare dinners for the family. I read a lot and sketch constantly, as I refine ideas and explore concepts that may be worth building.

What advice do you have for others?

Most industrial-skills-related art that I see online lacks strong design fundamentals. I think the skill of most people doing this work is much higher in the related trade or tool use than in the conception and drawing skills. I’d suggest more time and priority be given to the development of the ideas, forms and content.

What is your personal philosophy?

My philosophy about art is that the creation of physical pieces that originate in our imaginations should be for the enjoyment of the viewer, user, collector. As the builder/maker, I have my own enjoyment of the process from conception to creation; so, once a piece is complete I’d like to have made something that will be a “thing of beauty; forever.”

main pump suction header construction
main pump suction header construction

inside of boat chest and handle wooden eagle panel

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