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Turning Washers into Wine

The journey of a thousand washers …
Forming the neck of the bottle
Corkng the bottle

Welded metal art – 2019-19 Project #36. Another project request … from my daughter … my life as a present generator. But this one was very do-able and I immediately had an idea for the construction of a welded metal wine bottle. Challenge accepted! The collection of the smaller, non-rose sized washers in the washer bin were the subject. The plan – TIG welding the washers in a random pattern, forming them into the shape of a wine bottle … that sounds like a piece of cake (ice cream cake, or even better, cookie ice cream cake!). Of course, reality set in pretty quickly – I was barely into the project, the washers were not cooperating, and all I could think of was the crap-ton of little welds to go in this journey. It was not too late to bail out and come up with another plan. In the back of my head I was struggling with the thought of the tediousness and painstaking effort to continue to weld each little washer in place. And then how the heck was I going to form the neck of the bottle! The struggle was real. So what do you do when the struggle is real? Right! Channel your inner Kung Fu master – patience young grasshopper. It was again time to understand ‘living in the moment’ – don’t look so far ahead and think about how hard it was going to be to get to the end. That thought process can shut down even the best of ideas before they even start. Life experience told me to break the idea down into smaller parts (or journeys). Appreciate each part of the journey, and the celebrate each victory (or learn from each challenge), all the while keeping your eye on the larger prize at the end of the journey. And in the end – a miracle! What was that? It’s “… turned water into wine …”? Huh …

Making the wine bottle first required finding a base. Like the pineapple I used a 4-cycle engine crankshaft timing gear to serve as the base. The gear also served as the basis for the round shape of the bottle. So I prepared my Amico Tig-225 welder (an easy order and delivery from using some new welding accessories from Arc-Zone (yep, shameless, commercial shout-out here). I began TIG welding washers together by random selection from the washer bin – kind of like BINGO, but not. Some washers were just not destined for use in the construction of this wine bottle, or any welded metal art construction for that matter. And for all you lock-washers out there, yes, I’m talking about you! The attempt to weld a lock-washer actually turns out to be a effort to slowly melt away the washer, from end to end until eventually – poof! It’s gone! What the heck! Therefore, my washer selection excluded (for the most part) lock washers. There were several welds that required a bit of a do-over (cut out, clean, repeat) – but not an unexpected situation in a such a random process. I finally made it to ‘the turn’ in the bottle shape, where I had to form the neck of the bottle. It actually turned out easier than I thought as I sized up the washer before welding, bent it into shape, and then welded it into position. As the neck of the bottle was smaller than the body, it required a continued effort to curve each washer and weld it in place. And finally, time to cork the bottle. I used a ‘fancy’ washer to top it off. It actually took a few tries to because mister fancy washer wanted to ague about positioning – he obviously lost the argument in the end.

In true Kung Fu story form, the plot presented a challenge, a plan was developed, I had the patience of a grasshopper(?), learned a life lesson, and had my own parable (with a minor commercial break) to tell at the end of the episode – albeit about building a wine bottle from washers. The bottle was delivered on-time and was well received as the intended gift. The ‘miracle’ of creating and then looking back on the journey that leads to some greater end, is a very satisfying one. Some of the greatest and proudest moments is overcoming challenges and knowing how one addressed adversity to do so. Even if cursing is involved – only the piece knows that part and I know that it will never talk. The whole experience is an experiment in destiny – OK, I know, enough of the sensei talk. Time to move on (key the closing music and flash to the man walking off into the sunset) and … Weld On!