New Rosies revisited: Debra Montgomery

Debra Montgomery, woman welderOur theme for February, in honor of St. Valentine’s Day, is connections and hook-ups… in the broadest (and cleanest) sense of the words.  Back in 2008 we began profiling women welders here.  I thought it would be fun to catch up with some of those fabulous female fabricators and see where they are now.

We met our first woman welder over on mySpace (is anyone still on mySpace?)  Anyway, her handle was SteelWitch, aka Debra Montgomery.  She answered a question I’d had about welding copper (copper, it turned out, was her metal “crush,” not steel as her handle implied).  Debra and her husband Eric had a custom fab shop in the Sierras near Sequoia National Park and one of their specialties–  kitchen hoods made of copper.  I asked her how things were going….

Carmen:  Do you still have a fab shop with your husband?  and how has the economy treated you?

Debra:  Yes, Eric and I still run The Metal Shoppe. The economy has been a little challenging. There were were some touch and go times, but things have picked back up and I think we are going into our best year yet in 2014. We have been working in the Los Angeles area, the Bay area and down in San Diego to name a few locations. We have also had some local work pick back up again. We feel like our website has been instrumental in keeping our business afloat. It really expands the potential clientele base! For example have shipped our hoods as far away as New York and Colorado this past year.

Since I talked with you last, I have had some great commissions through my business, A Copper Rose Metal Art. I did a large family crest piece for a customer in Beverly Hills, CA. I also did a fun steel sculpture piece for a customer in Carmel, CA. It was a steel Manzanita Tree Wedding Chuppa. Lots of fun to design and see come into fruition!

As you can see, I still work in copper but my material / medium of choice is steel and my heart is really in fabrication and welding. My husband and I have been talking quite a bit about trying to change the creative direction of our shop with the introduction of new designs and new products such as wood and steel furniture, more fireplace features, etc. In line with these creative changes, one of the things I personally have decided to do was actually take a bit of a hiatus from some of the copper work and repousse work and focus this year on some personal projects after hours specifically related to welded sculpture work. Its been challenging to get potential clients interested in this type of work, but I hope to generate some future commission work through these endeavors.

My first project is a full size horse sculpture. I was fortunate to come across an opportunity through Facebook to get involved with a wild horse sanctuary movie project through a donation I made and this is part of what this horse sculpture is related to. Once I get it completed, I will be able to submit professional photos of the completed work and possibly get my work featured in the credits of the movie and in the pictorial book they are putting together in honor of Dayton Hyde, the founder of Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary. The movie is called “The Last Cowboy” – A Feature Film and is supposed to be out in October 2014. The other part of this sculpture is sentimental, in that I have a horse I have owned now for 27 years and I have included a pair of his horse shoes in the fabrication of this piece so I will have a part of him with me always even after he is gone. It will be 58 inches tall, all welded construction with a mix of steel and copper to pattern a paint horse coloration. I am extremely excited about this! I just started this in December and have until June to complete it.

Here is a link to Debra’s  Facebook album documenting the progress of this sculpture.

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