Welder turns metal work into art work


Mark Blaskey discussing his passion for welding and finally deciding to make a career choice out of it . © 2016, Sadie Sedlmayr

By Sadie Sedlmayr

For 61-year-old Mark Blaskey, beauty often takes the form of a perfectly laid welding bead in his mechanic shop as ordinary steel becomes a blank canvas for invention.

A second generation welder, Blaskey developed a passion for the craft late in life. He gets inspiration from bodies, motion and the story element.

Mark Blaskey turned his twin passions of art and welding into a second career . © 2016 Sadie Sedlmayr

“I try to take a flat piece of steel and apply motion into it somehow,” Blaskey said. “Sometimes it works, other times it doesn’t.”

After taking a welding course at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Blaskey discovered his natural talent for welding and fascination about bodies and movement.

But his passion for welding all started with his roots.
“My dad was a welder, so I was taught by him how to weld many, many years ago.” Blaskey said. “I always had that in the back of my mind.”

His world, as a craftsman, fundamentally consists of welding together a mangled mass of fluff in a matter of seconds. It took him years of experience to perfect the craft, and an investment in welding equipment. But that never stopped him from pursuing his dream.

When his father died, he inherited a bunch of his equipment, which included welding supplies. The legacy motivated him to set up his own workshop in a warehouse in Altoona, Wisconsin. Little by little, Blaskey started using some of the tools that were passed down to him and it was then he decided he wanted to use welding as his profession instead of having it be a just-for-fun experience.

Blaskey has plenty of work history that compliments his skillset for welding. He worked for Ayres Associates as a staff engineer from 1979-1982. He was the projects manager for Northwest Fabrics from 1984-1986. He was the Vice President of Engineering EGC Inc from 1986-1992. He was the Owner and President of Abacus Consulting Inc from 1992-2008. Then towards the end of his careers, he decided to work as an occasional projects manager at Krech Ojard from 2010 to the present time.

For Krech Ojard he designed and laid out streets and water lines. He spent 40 years designing dams, bridges, buildings, and all kinds of big structures, and learning how to draw things perpendicularly.

Blaskey said the best part about being an artist is the people he gets to associate with and the fact that some of the materials leads him into what to weld next.

“You start making something and the materials will lead you in another direction a little bit.” Blaskey said. “That’s one of the best parts about welding.”

He and his wife traveled to France 10 years ago or so visiting museums, like the Rodin, and studying the art.

“I thought to myself I couldn’t do exactly that,” Blaskey said. “But I was very interested in trying to do something like that.”

He said nothing beats going to a museum and seeing real artistry there. The theme Blaskey seeks to accomplish in his works is often the beauty or story element. There was an underlining theme of what he saw in Paris with the sculptures there.

Elyssa Larson has worked as Blaskey’s personal assistant and apprentice. She says Blaskey taught her to weld and that she modeled by posing for five pieces of his art work for his first exhibition. Larson said Blaskey thought a lot about what would be the best pose suited for her. She said she is still fascinated by his attention to detail as he translates it into art.

He doesn’t pretend to “make a statement” with his art because he doesn’t not call himself an artist but more of a craftsman that he’s freed from having his work make a statement or aspire to any higher motivation. Muddled sentence.

Blaskey said his true calling is to have many interests and finish life with a plethora of diverse experiences.

“My fantasy is that 50 years from now on a TV show, like “Antiques Roadshow” , someone will bring in one of my pieces,” Blaskey said. “and the expert will be able to talk about me and my work and give an auction estimate of the value of the piece in the tens of thousands.”



Contact Info:

Mark Blaskey website