I learned how to weld. Joran’s brother taught us how. We created new dining table legs as a learning case. Learning to weld has been a creative dream of mine for years, and I am grateful for the opportunity to learn the basics.
The joy of learning something new
I enjoy learning new skills for two reasons. First of all, making and creating is a huge part of my play personality. I love making. And it feels great to explore varied ways in which I can express my love for making.
Secondly, doing new things fuels curiosity and brings a new perspective. You step out of your comfort zone. You are forced to be a beginner. I think doing new things regularly stimulates lifelong learning, a childlike perspective, exploration and an open attitude to face the unknown.
You can solve problems in different ways
With each skill, you gain potential solutions to solve a problem. For example, if you are able to handle a saw and a drill, you have a number of options to replace table legs. But if you learn to weld, you suddenly gain a whole new array of possibilities. It’s like your playground just got twice as big. You will be able to come up with more varied ideas because of your growing skillset, and be able to execute them yourself.
Any new skill is a practical addition to your personal toolbox. I enjoy learning the basics of various crafts: make a stained glass window, take a photography course, blow glass, take a dress design workshop or … learn to weld. I feel like I am able to meet more creative challenges through those experiences.
You have a better understanding of what solution will work best
As a maker, you generally have a good understanding of what practical solution would work for a problem you’re trying to fix. That’s because of your hands-on experience. You will be able to tell how much force you can apply on a piece of wood, how many coatings it will take to cover that lampshade in spray paint, or how the end result will look once you finished all the steps. As your skill set grows, your insight in what solutions would work well also increases.
Fix, make and transform
Your personal toolbox of skills brings you different practical benefits. First of all the ability to fix things when they’re broken: stitch a hem; mend a flat bicycle tire or solder a broken LED-strip in your kitchen shelf. You do the world a favour by prolonging the life cycle of the objects you own by mending them instead of replacing them.
Secondly, the ability to secure, make and add things around the house when needed: hang a mirror, shelving or make a concrete base for a flamingo. Sometimes your space needs some adjustments to make the most out of it, and it can save you the hassle and money if you don’t rely on others to get things done.
And third, the ability to transform everyday objects and spaces into new magical and beautiful things: make a craft cabinet out of a collection of drawers and left-over wood or weld a table frame to create a unique ding room table that you love.
This third reason is my favourite, because it is about envisioning the unknown and using your creativity to make ordinary things special. You have the pieces of a puzzle that no one else sees the total picture of yet. In the maker’s hand these pieces become ingredients for a spectacular new creation.
The search for a dining room table
Finding a round dining table for our new house turned out to be a challenge. I found many new gorgeous designs online, but I wasn’t keen on spending more than a grand on a table. Secondhand, most tables were either not the right dimensions for the space, too far away to pick up, or flat out hideous.
I ended up buying a secondhand table that at least met my dimensions criteria. However, I wasn’t in love with the legs. But at least we would have a functional table for the time being, with the ability to change the legs ourselves over time.
Weld table legs
I saw some different metal frame designs that I liked on my online search. Luckily, Joran’s brother had offered us to teach us how to weld a few years back. He also has access to a welding workshop, and now we had a very practical project to work on.
So I decided to use my favourite table leg design as a base for drawing out my own. Then, we found a local metal shop from which we ordered the steel we needed.
The difference? Probably around €1400, a day of quality time together, and the addition of a new skill.
I still need to coat the metal. And I want to finish the table top in a different way, but that will be a story for another day. (I actually have an insanely cool idea for it but don’t know yet if I will get it to work, so more on that later).
Have you learned any new skills lately?