Get to know a zoo vet tech turned fabricator: A Q&A with David D’Souza

David D'Souza with gorilla at the Los Angeles Zoo

   What do you do for a living?

I’m actually a veterinary technician at the zoo in Los Angeles. I’ve always been an animal lover, and I’ve worked with animals since I was 16. It’s such an exciting and often dangerous job that it keeps me sharp and motivated. Every day is an adventure. I would honestly do it for free, but luckily it pays enough for me to enjoy my other hobbies.

How and why did you get into welding, art and making?David D'Souza welding

Speaking of my other hobbies, many of them center around motorsports. I’ve always enjoyed building fast cars, trucks and bikes. Welding is a necessary skill in fabricating many high-performance parts and “one of” custom setups; so, I had to pick up welding both MIG and TIG along the way. Once I immersed myself in the metal fabrication hobby It quickly developed into a real passion and from it my creative side started to blossom.

What types of items do you design and make?

I typically design and create industrial-style items, as well as a few more delicate things. Custom tables are my favorite along with mobile carts and other heavy items. Almost everything I design incorporates a blend of heavy steel and wood. I particularly like building butcher block or farmhouse-style slabs and mounting them on industrial steel frames. I like playing with different wood finishes such as epoxy resins. I feel that wood has a warm, deep beauty that is brought to light if the correct finishing technique is used.

David D'Souza cartDavid D'Souza TableDavid D'Souza chicken feet potsDavid D'Souza book endsDavid D'Souza industrail coffee table

How do you market or sell your creations? Do you attend shows?

I haven’t focused on the marketing or selling aspect too much until recently. This is still mainly a hobby, and I’m constantly learning and improving. I recently started Red Dogs Crafts, and I currently only have an Etsy website as a marketing tool. I do plan on becoming a vendor at a few local flea markets here in Los Angeles to see if I can find a target audience for my style of fabrication. I plan on attending a few shows to get some ideas of what other fabricators are doing out there. I love seeing new ideas and techniques because it motivates me to learn more.

How did you learn to do this?

I’m 100-percent self-taught in everything that I do. I’ve never taken classes, had a mentor or worked in the industry to have someone show me the ropes. I believe I’m a fast learner in anything that I do, and I also know that I learn best when I do things on my own by making mistakes and doing my own research on different techniques. Nowadays, with the Internet and YouTube there isn’t anything that you cannot learn online. Heck, there’s even YouTube videos on how to do cardiac surgery for that first timer doing a valve replacement. LOL. My usual mode of action is to buy the tool first then figure out how it works and then practice until I’m proficient at it or at least achieve the end results that I can be proud of.

What artists, designers or makers do you most admire?

I like Kevin Caron’s work. I think he’s very practical and down to earth with his techniques. He’s also a wealth of knowledge and experience; so, I respect his abilities and his work because he’s constantly learning like the rest of us. He’s also on the WeldingWeb forum where I met HGR for the first time; so, he adds to the knowledge base, as do many other experienced guys.

What inspires you?

I think I’m inspired by the challenge of creating something that I visualize in my mind and having to physically take the steps to make it materialize to as close a rendition of what I see in my mind’s eye. I feel that many people love certain things but always feel that they’re unattainable either because it’s too difficult, it’s too much work or they just can’t figure out how to do it. I love figuring out how to do new stuff. That is what inspires and motivates me.

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

Whenever I have free time I spend my time pursuing my other hobbies. Typically, I’m out in the deserts of Southern California riding my dirt bikes or drag racing my cars. I think the feeling of being on two wheels ripping through our beautiful landscape gives me the exhilaration that I’m constantly chasing. I also enjoy spending time outdoors at the beach with my two dogs and my girlfriend. Sometimes, I just love my family time staying home with my girlfriend and the dogs just relaxing.

What advice do you have for makers?

My advice is that you can go as far in this hobby/profession as you choose. It’s all dependent on the effort that you put into it. I would advise anyone starting in the hobby to take classes first. I think this would set you up with a good fundamental foundation which would expose you to the different techniques, tools and options out there which would then allow you to make intelligent choices going forward with the hobby. Being that I’m self-taught, I feel that I’ve gone around in circles a few times and would have wasted less time had I gained the experience a class provides. Also, if you can work in the industry do so, even as a volunteer. It’s invaluable the skill you develop by immersing yourself into the industry.

What is your personal philosophy?

I’ve never been asked this question before so I’ll have to think of one now. I think of life as a journey that is based on choices or decisions. Every decision we make has an effect on the direction that our life takes. If we make good decisions early in life, we are started on a path to success or happiness. I realized the consequences of my decisions in my late 20s and it was at that point that I started in the direction that I’m headed now. My philosophy would probably be something along the lines that life is a constant test of your character. If you make good choices based on good character you’ll be on the path to success and happiness in whatever you pursue.

Anything that I missed? The two red dogs?

Ah, my babies. “ShyAnne” and her daughter “Lil Cheese.” These are my two red dogs. A mom and daughter pair that have been part of my life for the last 15 years. ShyAnne has been by my side through thick and thin and good and bad. It’s amazing how having a strong bond with your dogs can keep you positive through so many difficult times in life. These two are a part of everything I do. Hence, I decided to name the fabrication shop after them as they are a part of everything I build. I’m glad to have my workshop at home because it allows me to spend time with my two dogs while I’m building stuff. I take lots of breaks to play ball with them and build cool dog toys to keep them occupied. In return, they only ask for more of my attention, and treats, which I am always glad to give.

David D'Souza's two Red Dogs after which Red Dog Crafts is named

Hurricane-victim relief auction goes LIVE

44 Steel desk
Desk by Jason Radcliffe of 44 Steel
Rust Dust & Other 4 Letter Words lamp table
Lamp table by Larry Fielder of Rust, Dust & Other 4 Letter Words
3 Barn Doors table for HGR Industrial Surplus hurricane-relief auction
Table by Aaron Cunningham of 3 Barn Doors

 

You can own a one-of-a-kind piece of handcrafted furniture by one of Cleveland’s premier contemporary-furniture designers AND help hurricane victims at the same time.

You can reach the auction from a button on our home page at hgrinc.com or go directly to the landing page here to read about the arts organization that will benefit from the auctions. To learn more about 44 Steel’s desk, click here. For info about Rust, Dust & Other 4 Letter Words’ lamp table, click here. For info about 3 Barn Doors, click here.

Help hurricane victims recover, and gain a conversation piece for your home or office.

CFHS students display Hot Work in heavy metal

(Courtesy of Guest Blogger Paula Maggio, PR specialist, HGR Industrial Surplus)

Students are back in the classroom. And that means students in the metals classes at Cuyahoga Falls High School are back at their work benches, safety goggles in place and welders in hand.

The school offers two one-semester courses in metals within its Industrial Technology and Manufacturing Program. In them, students develop foundational skills in metal fabrication and metal joining processes. They learn introductory industrial mathematics, design, basic metallurgy and metal forming. In addition, they learn theory and applications of a variety of welding and fusing processes including soldering, oxy-acetylene cutting, welding and brazing.

Students design and build projects and make repairs using the techniques they learn. We stumbled upon the students — and some of their creations they have dubbed “Hot Work” — at the Cuyahoga Falls All-City Art Walk last April.

Walk along with us as we show you some of their creations.

Metals student Maddie shows off the CFHS Hot Work bench displayed at the Art Walk.
Wine bottle holders and a paper towel holder were among the items the students crafted using their metal work skills.
CFHS metal working students also displayed this unique toilet paper holder at the Art Walk.
CFHS metals class students sold the items they displayed at the Art Walk, including peg racks made out of sawed-off golf clubs.

Cuyahoga Community College’s Manufacturing Center of Excellence works to fill the skills gap

Tri-C manufacturing center of excellence

In June, I met with Alicia Booker, vice president of manufacturing, and Alethea Ganaway, program manager additive manufacturing & Ideation Station, of Cuyahoga Community College’s Workforce, Community and Economic Development division at the Metro Campus. Booker says, “We take a manufacturing systems approach and not a product approach. We don’t just focus occupationally on the need to fill a gap then three months later the need arises again due to churn.”

For this team, it’s all about workforce development and creating a skilled workforce. More than 3,500 students are attending the workforce programs, including youth, adults interested in a career transitions, students who already have a degree but are returning to upgrade skills, older adults interested in a second career, employees who need additional training for their current role, and job seekers interested in starting a career.

Booker moved to Ohio two years ago from Pennsylvania to accept the position. Ganaway was moved from Tri-C’s robotics program to additive manufacturing in order to write the grant to fund the program. Now, two years later, the fruits of their labor are paying off in the Manufacturing Center of Excellence (MCoE).

Booker says, “We offer a unique brand of training – short-term through two-year degree plus transfer opportunities. Classes are offered in environments that meet the needs of the students and customers — day, evening, weekend, and bootcamp formats, full- and part-time training, and now we can offer onsite training through the Citizens Bank Mobile Training Unit. Our programs are comprehensive, offering exploration and career exposure to students as young as eight years old through our Nuts & Bolts Academy, middle and high school visits (via the mobile unit), and our college credit plus K-12 initiative.”

This is what the impressively outfitted MCoE contains:Tri-C manufacturing center of excellence scanner

  1. A shop that houses CNC equipment
  2. An integrated systems line with Fanuc robots that launched in June 2017 (Students can become a certified production technician in eight weeks, including program automation, PLCs, and visual inspection for quality control.)
  3. A 3D printing lab that houses a Faro scanner and two printers that can print biomedical-grade devices
  4. A PLC training line with both Allen-Bradley and Siemens systems that launched In August 2017 (Students can earn an international certification for Siemens Mechatronics Systems, mainly used by European companies, since there are more than 400 German companies in northeast Ohio, while Allen-Bradley is more common in The United States. Some companies, such as Ford, use both systems in different portions of the plant. The training line includes a PLC station with hydraulic and pneumatic boards and a robotic arm.)
  5. A rover for virtual-reality training and integrated gaming
  6. A Fab Lab, a maker space for community and international collaboration (it houses a classroom; a Techno CNC router; an embroidery machine; a small mill for engraving, heat presses for T-shirts, hats and mugs; a laser engraver; and a vinyl cutter.)
  7. A mobile unit that can go to businesses, events and schools for teaching and demonstration opportunities in a nine-county area that launched in February 2017 (The trailer fits 10 students and instructors; is WiFi, laptop and software equipped; has its own generator; has plugs for different amperages; and can be deployed with electrical, welding, CNC, mechanics and 3D printing equipment. The lab already has been deployed to the 2017 IndustryWeek Manufacturing & Technology Conference & Expo, a workforce summit, Crestwood Local Schools, and Boys & Girls Club of Cleveland.)

According to Ganaway, “The Additive Manufacturing program includes not only 3D printing, but we teach students how to reverse engineer parts, 2D and 3D design, 3D scanning, inspection and other technologies related to additive manufacturing.  Additive manufacturing is not just related to manufacturing; it includes other disciplines, as well, such as medical.  Some of the projects include 3D printing prosthetics for veterans at the VA who are disabled.”

The college offers training by which students can earn college credits and industry certifications. In the welding training, they learn MIG, TIG, and stick welding. Right Skills Now affords students with CNC training in manual and automated machining. They train on Haas CNC mills and lathes, and on Bridgeport manual machines. The 3D/additive manufacturing training is in digital design, and students receive training in multiple 3D printing technologies, including the use of 3D printers, scanners, and other equipment available through the Ideation Station where they can work with a techno router, laser engraver, etc. In Mechatronics, students learn techniques in mechanical, electrical, computerization, and gain an understanding of how these systems work together. Finally, as a certified production technician, students are prepared to begin career opportunities in manufacturing and earn four industry certifications in areas of safety, manufacturing processes and production. This is a hybrid training program that includes training on the integrated systems training equipment to prepare them for occupations in material handling, assembly and production.

To stay connected to industry, the program has several advisory committees made up of industry professionals from the welding, machining, electrical, mechanical, 3D printing and transportation sectors. They also have specific employer-based programs, including First Energy, Swagelok and ArcelorMittal, who have advised the college on customized programs that lead to employment with their companies. Local businesses, such as Cleveland Job Corps, Cleveland Municipal School District, Towards Employment, Boys & Girls Club, Ohio Means Jobs, Ford, General Motors, Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District, Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority, NASA, Arconic, Charter Steel, and others, utilize the program’s services.

The program, says Booker, helps to meet the growing demand for a skilled workforce by “working to strengthen the region by supporting the existing efforts of our partners and by addressing the needs we hear from employers for a skilled workforce. We provide a quick response for new skills by developing new programs and training modalities. We also are working with schools and youth-serving organizations to enhance the talent pipeline that industry needs.” She continues by sharing that the most common challenge that she sees manufacturing facing is “the alignment of skills — commonly referred to as the skills gap. The impact of technology on the industry is also a challenge as industry works to keep up with the growth of technology, and we (as a training institution) work to keep up with the projected needs for skilled workers.”

Tri-C manufacturing center of excellence mechatronics

Industrial artist and welder started out making a statue out of popsicle sticks

Mike Ensminger Iron Image Design

(Courtesy of Guest Blogger Mike Ensminger, Iron Image Design)

I was always the kid in class who was doodling on a piece of paper. All my life I’ve been very artistic and was able to draw pretty well; so, later when I took an art class in college I was able to fit right in. When we started to do three-dimensional work I took it as a challenge. I created a sculpture of the Archangel Michael standing on top of the serpent with his sword pointed high. Using popsicle sticks and hot glue, the sculpture was fragile, to say the least. I ended up receiving an A in the class, and I was put into the college’s Tribune newspaper for my work, but to my dismay the piece fell apart on a hot day in the back of my car.

Right around that time I was getting a welding certificate from Lorain County Community College, and I decided to make a piece out of metal that would be permanent and never fall apart. My work started with little things and grew as I challenged myself more and more. The larger pieces excited me, the challenge and thrill of making something amazing. I’d find myself getting lost in a project. I’d work on it late into the night, as the job that I was working at grew less and less important.

The pieces that I made sold for good money, and I figured that if I could dive into my work full time I could make a living at it. The last three years have been a process of learning how to run my own business legitimately and keep the inspiration to make the pieces that I wanted to make.

Meeting the right people and getting into the corporate realm are key, and things have been moving forward. I’ve done decorative metal work within the food industry. One restaurant that comes to mind is the Foundry Kitchen and Bar where much of my work was featured on Channel 8 News. I’ve done various venues within the Cleveland I-X Center, as well as working with its owner, Ray Park. Since I, oftentimes, sell my art to private owners, the larger goal is to expose my work corporately.

I feel like art is in all walks of life, including how we choose to live our life, who we live our life with, and what choices we make in between. My work usually starts from a large jumbled pile of metal laying on the ground next to my garage. But somehow, I find a way to create symmetry out of chaos. It all starts with an idea or vision and then you apply effort to that vision and every step of the way, every move you make, you must take a step back and evaluate if it was the right move or not. Sometimes, you have to go back a couple steps to get forward in the long run. We have to keep ourselves inspired and remain diligent to complete the task. With that formula, we can all do great things.

To see more of his work, visit ironimagedesign.com.

Ensminger Iron Image Design running horseEnsminger Iron Image Design screenEnsminger Iron Image Design tableEnsminger Iron Image Design chair

Machinery designer and die maker by day, mad scientist the rest of the time

 

restored high school chandelier
Restored chandelier at Cleveland Heights High School

(Courtesy of HGR Customer and Guest Blogger Christopher Palda)

Christopher Palda

How I became an HGR customer

I heard of HGR Industrial Surplus mainly from word of mouth. I used to deal with McKean Machinery where my boss sent me until it was bought by a New York firm and they got rid of the odds and end. As a result, they lost some customers. Many people that buy the little stuff at HGR see the large ticket items and send others they know who need these items. Employees left McKean to start HGR; so, it was a natural transition. You’ll see some of the things I’ve bought at HGR mentioned in the story below.

Recently, my workplace bought a MIG welder at HGR for the construction of Dan T. Moore Company’s plastic extrusion and rolling machine that is the size of a room. It’s for extruding plastic and rolling it into film. What they had at the welding supply store was not what we needed. We required a 100-percent duty cycle machine that could run all day long and found one at HGR.

What I do for work

I’m a die maker and do die repair, hydraulics, welding, machine tool wiring, basically an industrial maintenance technician who handles anything electrical, hydraulic and mechanical. I work for Mahar Spar Industries. A spar is the main strut in a sailboat, and the founder’s name is Mike Mahar. He started out making spars and sailboat masts in his garage in his spare time, and the business evolved from that point. Many ask me the origin of that unique name. I’ve been there for 20 years, and prior to that I was at NASA Glenn Research Center doing composite metallurgy research for jet engine applications and at the same time on a joint project working at Cleveland State University doing metallurgical research in the chemical engineering department where I built the metallurgy lab.

Some of the things I’ve built

One of the items that I am proud of that mostly came from HGR is a hyperbaric chamber. My doctor said that it would be helpful for my health to use one, but medical insurance wouldn’t cover treatments for this off-label use that was proposed; so, I came to HGR and built my own from used air compressor parts for pennies on the dollar. A new one for medical purposes costs $75,000. They usually are purchased by hospitals and medical facilities to treat diabetic patients with wounds that won’t heal, necrotizing fasciitis, carbon monoxide and cyanide poisoning, and scuba diving accidents and are used in clinical studies and trials to increase brain function in people with autism and a few other applications. I am a diver, but luckily haven’t had an accident yet and have not had to use it for that purpose. It cost me about $4,000 to build mine. By dumb luck I found a medical air compressor at HGR normally used in a dental office for the chamber along with a $1,200 medical oxygen regulator for $15 that just needed to be rebuilt. It basically functions as an isolation chamber, and you breathe pure oxygen through a mask as the oxygen regulator increases its output by using the chamber pressure as a reference point.

compressor tank from HGR before it was converted into a hyperbaric chamber
compressor tank from HGR before it was converted into a hyperbaric chamber
hyperbaric chamber side view
outside of completed hyperbaric chamber
inside of handmade hyperbaric chamber made from surplus at HGR Industrial Surplus
inside of finished hyperbaric chamber

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

bike trail cutting machine
bike trail cutting machine

We do projects for the Dan T. Moore Company, who also is an HGR customer. Dan believes Cleveland doesn’t have enough bike trails; so, he dropped off a small bulldozer and wanted it converted into a bike trail cutting machine. With our custom attachment it became something that looked like a bulldozer, meat grinder, snow blower hybrid. Some of the hydraulic parts came from HGR. He also wanted to build a steel mill in Bolivia at one point in the past, and we were doing a mockup of the process. We needed a large blower. His people were going everywhere else looking for stuff. I found one at HGR that looked and roared like a jet engine that was 125hp, and it worked great!

bakery oven
bakery oven

Additionally, I do maintenance work at a bakery that has a huge electric oven made in Italy that you can’t get parts for; so, you have to manufacture the parts yourself. Its internal electric flash boiler caramelizes the bread giving it that hard crust by explosively filling the deck with wet steam at the beginning of each bake cycle. The original boiler could not keep up and self-destructed. I copied the basic design with some improvements and made one five times larger. Some of its parts came from HGR.

I also work for Whitney Stained Glass Studio doing artistic metalwork restoration and conservation along with fabricating window frames. Projects include the windows at Stan Hywet Hall and the restoration of the outside stained glass lamps for St. James Catholic Church in Lakewood after a bird built a nest in it. The owner turned it on, and it caught on fire, which melted the solder. I had to strip the patina to fix it, which is considered a no no because it was covered in plastic. I said, “Watch me age this thing 100 years in minutes.” I stuck it in bleach and salt water and put power to it like in a plating operation and totally corroded the thing in 40 minutes.

welder from HGR
TIG welder from HGR

To put the hyperbaric chamber together, I needed to purchase a large TIG stick welder. I found a Miller at HGR for a fraction of the cost of a new one. It didn’t work and needed a little TLC, but if I buy it and it doesn’t work out it’s nice to know I can return it within 30 days. I got it for the cost of the copper scrap, gave it a bath, found a simple control issue and brought it back from the dead. It pulls 105 amps at 240 when I’m welding heavy aluminum. I would turn it on and watch the neighbor’s lights dim. Is the problem 2B solved or not to be? That’s the question. A trip down HGR’s Aisle 2B for some capacitors solved the problem, and the neighbor’s lights didn’t dim anymore. The effect is like pouring a glass of beer. You want the beer but not the foam. These capacitors get rid of the electrical equivalent of the foam.

You know the big speaker in the opening scene of Back to the Future? I said to a friend, “Cool, let’s build one.” A 5-hp stereo system was born! The neighbor would call me for requests when I fired it up in the summer while he was cutting his lawn as long as I played his stuff. The neighbors didn’t like heavy metal, and that’s when the heavy metal station Z Rock was on the air and when I hit the heavy-metal stage in my development.

Building a fire-breathing dragon for the play “Reluctant Dragon” at a children’s theater in 1985 was a blast. When I adapted an old CO2 fire extinguisher and put red lights in the mouth and eyes, it worked first rate. My electronics business in my parent’s basement when I was 10 or 11 aided in paying for this lunacy.

broken chandelier
mangled chandelier prior to restoration

Cleveland Heights High Schools auditorium has huge 300-pound chandeliers. One of them dropped about 35 feet while they were trying to change the light bulbs and smashed into smithereens — a mangled, twisted mess. Redoing all the artistic metal work was a challenge while many others at Whitney Stained Glass restored the stained glass globes.

Near-death experiences

Back in the caveman days, there were only five TV stations. You had to have a movie projector to watch movies. My dad got two 35mm machines from a drive-in that went out of business and modified the optics to work in a house. We had a movie theater in our basement. I was born with mechanical ability, but I learned and worked with my dad who also was handy and was a self-taught mechanical and electrical and hydraulic engineer. He designed tooling and stamping dies along with pollution control in power plants. I could set up and operate these machines as a kid, and when my dad took off the TV back to work on it I saw that there was what looked like a small roll of film inside the that I thought had the Bugs Bunny cartoons on it. He yelled, “Don’t touch that! That is the fly back transformer and has 15,000 volts on it!’

He fixed the TV but left back off. One day, while I was watching it, the picture got odd. I realized the cat was inside. When I went to grab the cat so she would not get hurt, she jumped out and my hands landed on the flyback transformer and lit up blue. Afterward, I felt like lightning had hit me. I woke 15 minutes later across the room and had a revelation — that’s why it’s called a flyback transformer because when you grab one that is what you do!

Christopher Palda as a child working on a car
Christopher Palda as a child working on a car

Another time, as a little kid in the car at the gas station, I asked my mom why the man had a garden hose and was putting water in the car. Mom said it was gas but she wished it was water because it’s cheaper. At home, I put five gallons of water in the car to save mom money after I noticed the spout on the lawn mower gas can fit the end of the garden hose. We ended up stranded the next time we drove it.

I’ve had eight various experiments with electricity. It’s amazing that I’m still alive. I wondered how a vacuum cleaner worked. My dad explained the process of how it worked starting with electrons moving in the cord. I had to find out what an electron looked like; so, I opened up paper clips and was determined to go to the outlet and pull one out. I had two paper clips, one in each side. When they touched, there was a fiery explosion that burned my hands. I got to see a lot of electrons!

My vaporizer broke when I was sick. My dad fixed it by making a new part on his lathe. I saw how it opened up when he took it apart. When everyone was gone, I took it apart while it was plugged in and threw handfuls of salt at it with water to watch the explosions. The power main want “bang” as everything went dark in the house. A voice from downstairs yelled, “Christopher, what did you do now?”

Cleveland artist creates home décor products from reclaimed materials

Susie Frazier in front of welder

I know that your career in reclaimed art started when you rescued broken slate roofing tiles being torn off of buildings. Why did you do that?

I saw the tiles leaning on the side of a random building as raw material that was neglected. There was something so beautiful sitting there broken. It prompted me to buy an industrial-grade wet saw so that I could cut the fragments into small pieces that could be used for creating mosaic surfaces. I guess that I saw myself in the tile as I went through periods of neglect and wanted to be scooped up and turned into something new. It was subconscious. We learn and heal by doing. It was the beginning of my therapy. I went on to create an entire product line of picture frames, mirrors, benches, and tabletop accents that I sold through stores and galleries coast to coast. Now, 20 years later, I design products in a wide variety of reclaimed materials, including wood, steel and glass.

Did you create art prior to that time? Were you always an artist?

I have been selling my handmade creations since I was 14 years old. Eventually, I began freelancing as a graphic designer and worked in sales and marketing. In 1997, I was between jobs and bartending at night so that I could have time to make and sell my functional art during the day. Starting and growing is thematic for me. I found that I missed the process of building with my hands when using a computer all the time, but working with reclaimed construction materials was a bit of an education back then. This was before the term Going Green had been coined or the Maker Movement was a thing; so, people had to be taught about why industrial salvage was so amazing.

How did you go from being an artist to having a business and a fabrication shop that sells to top U.S. companies?

I spent many years selling my handmade art, furniture and gifts at festivals and trade shows across Ohio and beyond. Every year taught me something new about consumer buying habits, my products’ unique selling features, and how to drive more sales. In 2010, I grew out of the festival scene and set up a permanent showroom inside 78th Street Studios. Once I presented my work in a more sophisticated manner with an actual point-of-sale system, I was able to attract more serious customers who wanted me to create custom furniture, wall features, corporate gifts, and high-end home décor. Once the demand grew, I had no choice but to farm out aspects of production to various fabricators I trusted. That was the only way for me to scale.

How has your work evolved?

I went from being known as just a fine artist to being a successful product designer to now expanding into interior design services. Recently, I curated the two-bedroom model suite of a 306-unit multi-family housing development at The Edison at Gordon Square, filling it with custom art and furniture that I designed with the help of many local makers in Cleveland.

Who is your favorite artist?

Andy Goldsworthy, a prominent eco-artist of our time, works with found organic materials to create biomimic outdoor sculptures. He then takes photos as they decompose over time. It’s stunning work. Since I’ve been focusing more on accessories and small furniture these days, I have been very interested in other product designers and what they are doing. I’m a huge fan of Nottingham Spirk and all the products they’ve invented for major brands around the world. They design for function not just beauty, and that’s very important to me.

The Cleveland Bolo, jewelry by Susie FrazierWhat kinds of items are you currently making?

I just launched a new jewelry item a few months ago that I can’t keep in stock – The Cleveland Bolo. It’s made from real leather and scrap pieces of .5” square steel rod from my buddy’s metal shop. It’s very simple but modern. Other makers in town build tables out of reclaimed wood, and, sometimes I will dig through their piles of scrap for discards that I can repurpose into some small product. I call that polyclaiming, when the material is on its second or third generation of being repurposed.

Why did you locate at 78th Street, and why Cleveland?

In 2010, I went out to look for a location where people were already starting to migrate for art and design. 78th Street had the only thing going with dozens of makers in one place, as one destination. Plus they had the marketing and programming to back it up rather than simply being a sleepy live/work building.

I’m from the Southwest – born in Los Angeles but grew up in Scottsdale, Denver and Boulder. The desert and the mountains have definitely influenced my aesthetic. Right out of college in 1992, I married a man from Cleveland, and through that experience I also fell in love with the city. Before that, I had never been further east than the Mississippi. Ultimately, I became fascinated with the organic and industrial paradox of Cleveland, which has inspired my design aesthetic from the beginning. We truly are a forest city.

What made you decide to make Movers & Makers, your TV show that was piloted locally on WKYC and is being shopped to networks right now?

Having been in business for 20 years with a distinct brand around handmade, artistic products, I felt it was time to share my story with a broader audience both inside and outside of Cleveland. The purpose of Movers & Makers as a TV show is to propel the Maker Movement and my role in it through an entertaining platform. I see great value in giving more air time to the creative process and not just to the before and after. Besides, there’s a huge audience of women out there who are strong DIY champions and who are capable of things their mothers weren’t. Through woodworking, welding, and computer technology, they’re making all kinds of things and becoming entrepreneurs in the process. That’s what it’s all about. I love the instant gratification skills, like welding, and showing women how easy it is to try something new without fear. By following the furniture or art projects my team and I work on, Movers & Makers shows America that when you apply your creative mind, amazing things are possible. People don’t have to be intimidated.

What do you enjoy doing when you are not working in your studio?

I really enjoy yoga, which grounds me physically and spiritually, but I’m a huge fan of horses, hiking, walks along the beach and dancing. I was also an all-state shortstop in high school; so, I love throwing the baseball around. Three years ago, I got behind an indie folk rock band as a manager and helped them produce and promote two albums. I have three kids — 15, 13 and 12; so, I guess I just wanted them to see by example how to experience the richness of life.

Have you shopped at HGR?

In 2010, I became a customer when I heard about HGR from a guy in my building. I told him that I was looking for a rolling cart. He sent me to HGR where I met Tom Tiedman, my salesman, with whom I’ve worked all these years. I’ve repurposed carts, cleaned them up, and inlaid reclaimed wood to make killer side tables. Recently, I bought a bin of washers that were welded into a sculptural award for Crain’s Cleveland Business. I’ve also purchased practical things like filing cabinets and office equipment.

What’s next?

In the coming weeks, my partners at Mont Surfaces and I are launching a webisodes series about my Reflective Design philosophies for creating a sense of calm through various home improvement decisions. I’m a big fan of designing mindful spaces, so the furnishings, the materials, and the colors support well-being. Sourcing salvage items that hold special meaning for the homeowner is a huge part of that. The series will be posted at www.susiefrazier.com, or you can come to one of 78th Street Studios art walks, called THIRD FRIDAYS, taking place on the third Friday of every month from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. We will most likely run this on a monitor throughout the night.

What is your philosophy?

Making the brokenness beautiful.

coffee table from recycled wooddriftwood wall design

Teacher helps industrial arts student with projects

Brenna Truax welding

(Courtesy of Guest Blogger Eric Dimitrov, Walsh Jesuit High School teacher)

I am a high school teacher (I see you help Euclid and other high schools) who has a student, Brenna Truax, currently enrolled in The University of Cincinnati’s industrial design program. In the program she will be in a studio space where she will working with various media, including wood, plastic and metal. Our school is great but does not offer industrial arts; so, I have been helping her prepare. I am a self-taught welder (actually bought my stick welder from HGR), and I have been working with her to craft some industrial-art-based projects. In the photo, we’re working to make a light from a cam shaft.

I told her about some of the art and cool furniture HGR has. And so, we will be making a trip to look at it. I cannot promise that the final project(s) would look nice enough for your new office space, but it is for a student to learn on and work with. I am thinking big nuts, gears, shafts — materials we can work to weld into a sculpture or shelving or table legs.

April is National Welding Month!

welder with shield and sparks

In support of the American Welding Society, we’re celebrating all the talented, hardworking welders who make many of the objects that we use and appreciate on a daily basis, especially those that get us where we need to go. Welding was discovered in the 1800s and has continued to make strides. Consider a career in welding and talk to your local community college or trade school, or let us know if you are a welder and what you weld. Thank you, welders!

If you’re looking for welding equipment, HGR Industrial Surplus has affordable new and used items to fit out your weld shop.

Jan. 14: HGR’s monthly customer appreciation Saturday sale

We’re open one Saturday per month and offer a full, hot, free breakfast to those who swing by the showroom. Check out the sales!

HGR Saturday Jan. 14, 2017 customer appreciation sale flyer

An update on HGR’s 2015 manufacturing scholarship recipient

Jon Berkel Elyria Foundry
(photo courtesy of Elyria Foundry)

(Courtesy of Guest Blogger Jonathan Berkel, 2015 HGR Industrial Surplus Manufacturing Scholarship recipient)

Ever since I received the manufacturing scholarship from HGR Industrial Surplus in 2015 and graduated from Elyria High School and Lorain County JVS where I studied welding and fabrication, I have been furthering my education at Lorain County Community College to earn an associate of science degree. In fall 2017, I will be transferring to The Ohio State University to earn my bachelor’s degree in welding engineering.

For the past year and half at Lorain County Community College I have been taking classes in math, science, English and general education that will transfer to The Ohio State University. These courses will prepare me for future courses that I will take in order to pursue my degree.

While attending classes, I work part-time, and I work full-time when classes are not in session at Elyria Pattern Co., since I graduated high school as a welder and a pattern maker. I do a little bit of everything. I am working on some projects for Elyria Foundry. I also have been working on frames for the base of the patterns. These frames go on the base of the pattern to give the base stronger support.

I would like wish all the 2017 scholarship nominees good luck.

Jon Berkel welding
(Jonathan welding)