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The Joker … er, Penguin

It’s a joker, it’s a smoker, it’s a midnight … penguin.
I was wondering why he kept wandering off the table … he needed some eyes!
My first (and last, so far) painted project.

Welded metal art – 2019-24 Project #41. At this point in time, I had designs on starting a really cool project – I already had it picked out and had a vision. It was at that moment, out of the corner of my eye, I saw an eyeless penguin body laying lifelessly on the metal pile … hopefully you know I am referring to one made of license plates and not a real one. With some reluctance, I decided to resurrect the half-finished (or half-started?) project that I had worked on while I was making the shark out of license plates. If I haven’t already explained, work with license plates can be painfully joyous (word selection? I’m feeling deep today). As those two contradictory terms indicate – welding license plates, or any thin metal for that matter, is tedious (I reserve the right to insert more colorful words here down the road). However, the end result can be pretty cool looking. So with a sudden resurgence of inspiration (although I’m thinking it was more like liquid inspiration, which likely blinded my recollection of earlier frustrations), I decided to put some effort into the little penguin and finish it. I had dabbled in efforts to weld license plate seams together with both the MIG and TIG welders. It turns out that TIG welding the seams worked much better with a little prep work that included crimping the seams together before welding … it was just a lot more time consuming. And there were several welds where it was just not possible to align the seams, so I used the MIG for those welds. It was enjoyable watching this project come together because with every added piece, it became more and more identifiable as a penguin. There came a point where it didn’t matter what angle I looked at it (right eye closed, left eye closed … both eyes closed), the rat rod penguin just need a little visual help. So, on a whim I decided to step out of my rat rod mindset and see what a coat of paint would look like. I dug out some black and white spray paint from a box in the garage and went at it. I sprayed the white from one direction and the black from the opposite direction. That painting method worked out amazingly well. I’m talking one of those “You’re not going to believe this …” results. After a little touch up with a little paint brush to add black to the eyes and beak, it was finished. It was alive!

This section usually consists of an explanation of the metal materials used in the construction of the piece. So yeah, I used … license plates? Nuff’ said? Well, there were the spacers and round head bolts welded in place for the eyes. The most significant challenge for this piece was cutting the license plates to form the body, wings, feet, and beak. I used a combination of tin snips and a cutting/grinding wheel for all the cutting and forming. As previously noted, I used both the MIG and TIG welders to complete the welds on the piece. It was very easy to melt a hole in the plates when welding. I wound up using to MIG to fill in the holes I (accidentally) created and ground the excess fill down. So there’s that – and that was a lot more explanation here than I expected.

The little penguin that could was finished! Sometimes the best decision is to take a little step back, slow it down, and just let things flow. While I had reservations about pulling this penguin piece back out and finishing it, I am so glad I did. A (shop/life) lesson here was not to let the pressure of expectations overwhelm the process. Enjoy the moment, keep your energy up, use that energy to create … and expect the unexpected! Operating in the unknown is where amazing happens, so quit trying to predict everything and enjoy the wonderful present moment. What a very nice feeling when it was all done. And I am happy to say that the piece found a happy home with my granddaughter. So with that, I say … Paint On! Just checking to see if you were paying attention (a little side note in closing – spray painting can be messy). Ah yes, you know what’s coming – Weld On!