Highlighting RTF welding fume equipment: Our story of a professional welder features metalworking artist Mr. Rich Baker of richcraftironworks.ca
Rich Baker has spent years working professionally as a welder, his career has spanned from welding in the industrial sector of business to operating two welding studios. Rich is well known in welding communities and has acquired influence with welding networks on social media for his outstanding wildlife creations. Our Remove The Fume team set up to interview Rich about his career path journey, his inspired creativity and his use of our welding extraction equipment.
Interview with Rich Baker, RichCraft Ironworks
Thank you for using our Remove The Fume | Powered by Plymovent equipment and highlighting RTF welding fume equipment on many social media posts. We enjoy watching the story unfold when you post your wildlife metalworking creations. It’s great to see the variety of wildlife creations you have brought to life with your work.
Rich, please tell us the story of your career as a professional welder. How did your career choices lead you to creating your magnificent metalworking wildlife creations?
I’d like to say that where I am now as a career was a planned destination, however this would be untrue. Sometimes the best things in life are unplanned. I was running a welding department for a large industrial company about ten years ago when I decided I wanted to venture out on my own. My initial plan was to open a weld shop on my property and offer my services to the local farming community. While waiting for clients to start showing up, I started experimenting with sculpting small figurines out of antique nails and as luck would have it, I landed a small wholesale contract making these figurines.
This took off quickly and lasted for over a year. From these small nail figurines it evolved slowly into animals sculptures. I simply gravitated to what really interested me and with my love for nature I was really just creating what I observed. As it turns out, the only farm equipment welding I ever did was to weld a pig trough for a local hobby farm.
Highlighting RTF welding fume equipment for shop use:
In an up and coming article with the CWB you highlight your professional relationships, including our Plymovent brand Remove The Fume. Thanks for being a dedicated end user of Remove The Fume equipment. Please share with us the types of units you use, and how you use them during your welding applications?
Presently I’m running two separate shops on my property (you can never have enough shop space). In the larger original shop I weld for my second passion in life, automotive restoration. It’s mostly restoration work on vintage Land Rover vehicles which I do in partnership with my two brothers. It’s a booming little company called 3 Brothers Classic Rovers.
In this shop I utilize the MFD (disposable filter) fume extractor and the very handy PHV Portable Fume Extractor. The MFD is my primary Fume extractor, used for welding applications on vehicles or when I’m using a rotisserie for firewall repairs. When I’m heading into tight spots, say under a vehicle, I use my PHV portable unit. With the magnetic hose connection of this portable unit, it’s ideal for having fume extraction right up close to the source.
Portable and stationary fume extractors do make all the difference in air quality and safety for welders and employees.– Remove The Fume Team
In my smaller shop I do my sculptural work. This shop presented a challenge due to the lack of floor space. With RTF’s help, the solution to this problem was the incredible SFS (self cleaning filter) unit. This unit mounts on the wall as to not take up too much floor space. It’s also an amazing unit because of its ability to remove grinding dust. In a small shop, besides fumes, grinding dust is my biggest problem. I used to have to leave the shop to literally let the air clear so I could work and breathe. This welding fume extractor solves both these issues for me.
We are looking forward to your show coming up at the Algonquin Art Centre. Previously, we discussed you had a foot print being out in Northern Ontario. Is this where you first found your passion for creating wildlife metal craft creations?
I actually only resided in the North for a few years. Since I was a young boy (not admitting that I’m old now), I have been traveling and exploring everything the great north country has to offer. Camping, road trips, and outback canoe adventures are a treasured part of my life. However it wasn’t until several years after we moved back to Southwestern Ontario that the sculptural art portion of my life came into play. Looking back though, living in that environment absolutely created a positive lasting effect on me and continues to inspire what I do today. I still try to get up North as much as possible each year.
You also mention Birds of Prey are your favorite for making metal craft creations from. Have you ever created a Peregrine Falcon? and if not then can you share with us your favorite Bird you have created?
Yes, Birds of Prey have always held a fascination for me. And yes, while I have created a Peregrine Falcon, my favorite Bird of Prey would have to be the Red Tail Hawk. The skies over my shop are filled with these magnificent hunters. My very first bird was a Red Tail Hawk
Our Remove The Fume team really enjoys following along with your social media posts, and we are curious when you may have made your first creation.
My first attempt at what I consider a hollow body sculpture such as I make now was quite rudimentary but it still makes me smile when I look back. This was a short 9 years ago.
Please share with us the inspiration behind how you began your journey to becoming renown for your metal arts?
My inspiration comes from a lifetime of adventures in the outdoors. I continually draw from memories of my encounters with wildlife in their backyard. Most of these encounters occurred with my interior canoe trips and camping excursions in Algonquin, KillBear and Killarney Provincial Parks just to name a few. Today I am also inspired by the challenge of creating lifelike representations of the animals I see. Muscle texture, feather placement and proportion are all so important but creating a piece that looks realistic from a material that doesn’t naturally mimic nature is a challenge I take on gladly with every piece.
I will be exhibiting this season again (June – October) at Algonquin Art Centre. My solo exhibition with them will be late summer/early fall. (Exact dates to be announced).
We know you have been reading our recent posts on Fume Facts. Learning about the recent findings from the IARC declaring welding fumes as carcinogenic, do you find you are using the best personal safety equipment to keep your lungs and skin healthy when working with metals?
Absolutely! Not only have I noticed a difference in the air quality of my shop, but even visibly the difference is outstanding. My shop used to have an unpleasant over hanging “blue haze” after a day of welding. I haven’t dealt with those unhealthy conditions since my introduction and partnership with RTF.
How often do you use stainless steel in the welding applications to create your creations, and are you confident in the welding fume extraction equipment you use to supply personal protection when you are working?
Simply from the fact that I’m aware of the hazards that go with the welding process makes me contentiousness of my safety. I try to steer away from these metals and I’m fortunate that in most cases, I can chose which alloys I use in my creations. However, there are times when my work does require using these materials. My mind is at ease knowing I have the best in fume extraction at my fingertips.
My work as an artist is always “in flux”. What I want to work on can change in a moment. My work is always driven by inspiration.
Highlighting RTF welding fume equipment and other professional welding community sponsors:
My partnership with RTF goes hand in hand with all of my sponsors. I’m very fortunate to be working with incredible companies such as yourselves, Fronius (weld units), Fein industrial tools and 3M Speedglas weld helmets.
Each company and their support plays an intricate part in my process of creating. I’m a firm believer that in order to be the best that you can be at what you do, you need the best equipment to bring that vision to fruition. I equate this belief to my earlier years in the music business. If you’re on stage with a cheap guitar and mic, chances are your performance will be less than stellar…no matter how talented you are. Great equipment helps me be the best I can be.
With your crowd following on the internet, do you get many purchase requests for fabrications or how do you sell your metalworking creations?
In addition to selling my pieces through the Algonquin Art Centre, I do also offer my works as they come available though our website www.richcraftironworks.ca and Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. I also work privately with clients on commissioned pieces to bring their vision to life. For more about the artist please visit his website.
Thank you so much to you Rich and your team for having a conversation with us Highlighting RTF welding fume equipment. We really appreciate your team being a part of our business community.
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