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Training & Education

Sharing insight

By Julie Sammarco

A metal artist uses the Internet to share his metalworking knowledge

March 2012 - Regardless of the industry, some professionals regard their knowledge as a hedge against competition. But one metal artist decided to take his 20 years of knowledge and experience in welding and sawing artistic pieces and share it publicly.

John Searles, a paint chemist turned metal artist, has been posting how-to articles and videos for forming and fabricating metal art to his website for the past five years. He tries to post at least one per week, though he mentions his articles will be moving to his blogpages, starting in 2012.

His guides range from how to work with stainless steel to how to solder and work with patinas. His website also includes how-to guides for his own specific projects such as how to fabricate a coffee table or how to do metal weavings, a specialty of Searles.

For Searles, sharing information is part of being successful. “A lot of people have to learn these techniques the hard way and they struggle, which is never fun. But fortunately, the open information nature of the Internet has made this easier,” he says. “Sharing information is kind of the spirit of the Internet,” he continues. “There are many generous people on the Internet giving out lots of free information, and I enjoy sharing what I know.”

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Because of the advances in social media, sharing has become a more profitable avenue for businesses like Searles’. According to Socialware’s “Social Media Statistics” report, companies might be missing out on benefits by not sharing information. Statistics include:

• 69 percent of respondents report their companies have gained measurable business benefits from social technologies, including more effective marketing, more innovative products and services, better access to knowledge, lower costs of doing business and higher revenues.

• 79 percent of the largest Fortune 500 firms use Twitter, Facebook, YouTube or blogs to communicate with customers and other stakeholders.

• Security can’t block the use of social networking sites anymore. The benefits, including low-cost ways to recruit employees, distribute marketing materials and enable employee networking, are too great.

Getting started
Visitors can read many articles on how to get started on working on metal projects on Searles’ website. However, Searles he uses a variety of materials and techniques to make the abstract wall sculptures, outdoor sculptures, metal tile assemblages and metal weavings.

He has four welders: two TIG and two MIG, all of which are products from Lincoln Electric Co., Cleveland.

He cuts aluminum with a table saw, plasma cutter or a waterjet. Then he typically MIG and TIG welds the shaped metal. “I have a push/pull welder that’s fantastic for aluminum welding because it both pushes and pulls the wire at the same time and it does pulse welding. It’s great for bronze too,” he says.

When beginning his business as a metal artist, Searles attended the Lincoln Electric Welding School in Cleveland. “The course was a couple of months long, and I learned how to MIG and TIG weld,” he says. He also has benders and rollers and does many processes by hand.

For Searles, starting his sculpture business was a lifelong aspiration. “I got a practical degree in chemistry and did that into the 80s. In the 90s I was about 40 [years old] and realized it was do or die time. If I was ever going to start my own business as an artist, it was going to be now,” he says.

Although he also says starting a business as an independent artist is challenging at times, it’s rewarding. Today, Searles’ business is booming. “We’re flooded,” he says. “We had a flood of orders in 2008 and 2009. Then 2010 was a little slim until Labor Day then we had a rush, and we’ve had a rush ever since,” he continues. “And I owe it to the Internet.” FFJ

Sources

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Company Profiles

AIR FILTRATION

IRONWORKERS

NESTING SOFTWARE

SERVICE CENTERS

Camfil APC - Equipment Trilogy Machinery Inc. Metamation Inc. Admiral Steel
Camfil APC - Replacement Filters

LASER TECHNOLOGY

PLASMA TECHNOLOGY

Alliance Steel
Donaldson Company Inc. AMADA AMERICA, INC. Messer Cutting Systems Inc.

SOFTWARE

BENDING/FOLDING

Mazak Optonics Corp.

PLATE

Enmark Systems Inc.
MetalForming Inc. MC Machinery Systems Inc. Peddinghaus Lantek Systems Inc.
RAS Systems LLC Murata Machinery, USA, Inc.

PLATE & ANGLE ROLLS

SecturaSOFT

BEVELING

TRUMPF Inc. Davi Inc. SigmaTEK Systems LLC
Steelmax Tools LLC

LINEAR POSITION SENSORS

Trilogy Machinery Inc. Striker Systems

COIL PROCESSING

MTS Sensors

PRESS BRAKE TOOLING

STAMPING/PRESSES

Bradbury Group

MATERIAL HANDLING

Mate Precision Tooling AIDA-America Corp.
Burghardt + Schmidt Group EMH Crane Rolleri USA Nidec Press & Automation
Butech Bliss Fehr Warehouse Solutions Inc.

PRESS BRAKES

STEEL

Red Bud Industries UFP Industrial AMADA AMERICA, INC. Alliance Steel
Tishken

MEASUREMENT & QUALITY CONTROL

Automec Inc.

TUBE & PIPE

CONVEYOR SYSTEMS

Advanced Gauging Technologies MC Machinery Systems Inc. BLM Group
Mayfran International

METAL FABRICATION MACHINERY

SafanDarley HGG Profiling Equipment Inc.

DEBURRING/FINISHING

Cincinnati Inc.

PUNCHING

Prudential Stainless & Alloys
ATI Industrial Automation LVD Strippit Hougen Manufacturing

WATERJET

Lissmac Corp. Scotchman Industries Inc.

SAWING

Barton International
Osborn Trilogy Machinery Inc. Behringer Saws Inc. Jet Edge Waterjet Systems
SuperMax Tools

METAL FORMING

Cosen Saws Omax Corp.
Timesavers FAGOR Arrasate USA Inc. DoALL Sawing

WELDING

HYDRAULIC PRESSES

MetalForming Inc. HE&M Saw American Weldquip
Beckwood Press Co.

MICROFINISHING TOOLS

Savage Saws Strong Hand Tools
Triform Titan Tool Supply Inc.

 

T. J. Snow Company

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