Metal Sculpture Artist loves his Miller Diversion 180 TIG Welder!

Are YOU a welding artist or hobbyist, or considering getting into it?  It’s easier than you think, and can be a very affordable hobby with beautifully finished products to enjoy, display, or even sell. Artists LOVE shopping at ILMO’s nine retail branches throughout Illinois and Missouri because our store representatives are happy to help answer all types of welding and gas questions and have access to ILMO’s Certified Welding Inspectors to help with problems and questions you thought impossible to solve! Find an ILMO near you here or send us a question!

(From When does metal collide with art? In the case of STRETCH, a world-renowned artist, metalworker and sculptor living in Kansas City, the collision involves a unique set of circumstances-very unique. He looks at surrounding architecture and uses the same surrounding natural materials so that his pieces flow with the environment. According to STRETCH, “The end result is an integral piece designed to fit the project, complimenting the space in a balanced equilibrium.”  

The artist’s choice of materials-glass and steel-is not just a personal preference. He believes that glass and steel work against each other, “causing tension while maintaining a high level of dialogue.” The dialogue is meant to educate and trigger insight, as well as create a “better understanding of concepts and ideals the work embodies.” STRETCH has worked with many renowned artists on public commissions for airports, college campuses and city sculpture parks around the world. He has been welding for over 25 years and has been building large-scale sculptures for more than 15 years.

One of STRETCH’s large-scale sculptures in Grinders sculpture park/music venue.

In addition to sculpting, STRETCH is actively involved in the Kansas City Community. He runs a gallery known as ZONE, as well as two restaurants called Grinders and Grinders West. The restaurants accompany a sculpture park turned live music venue, The Crossroads KC @ Grinders, which promotes artists, musicians, and benefits for non-profit organizations. (Learn more about STRETCH on Facebook and Twitter.)

His career as an artist actually goes back to his 7th-grade metal shop class. STRETCH found that by practicing good technique, he had a talent for creating things with his hands.  As a junior in high school, he began taking college art courses at the Philadelphia College of Art, where he excelled. “At that point in my life, the arts probably kept me from going to jail,” says STRETCH. “Not that I was a troublemaker, but there just wasn’t enough creativity in the school system to keep a suburbia kid out of trouble. So the arts really kind of saved my life.”

STRETCH went on to attend the Kansas City Art Institute. “I came to the Art Institute to design toys,” says STRETCH. “I was taking design classes, designing electric cord caddies and vegetable brushes. I looked across campus and the sculptors were welding steel and kicking up 20-ft. rooster tails with these grinders. I picked up my stuff, cruised over to sculpture and never went back.”

And there it was, across campus, the collision he couldn’t deny. He saw scaffolding, metal, huge ice blocks and light refracting through it all to create giant prisms. He asked what it was and when he was told it was a sculpture, he said, “No, sculptures are these ground down, stainless steel cube-like pieces. That was my eye opener, and that was about 25, 30 years ago,” says STRETCH. “So when people ask, ‘When did it start?’ I say, ‘It has never stopped.'”

Miller recently asked STRETCH, a life-long Miller user, to review three pieces of equipment suitable for artists, gearheads and other DIY welders. Here, he reviews the Diversion 180. In Part 2, STRETCH talks more about his choice of materials and equipment and reviews the Millermatic 211 MVP w/Auto-Set.

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