Jun 25, 2023
Father's Day: Welding artist and dad, Chase Fisher, selling creations at Snake Alley Art Fair
Like most Midwestern artists of all disciplines, Chase Fisher has a day job: he’s a TIG welder at Fusion Tech Integrated in Roseville, Illinois. Tungsten Inert Gas welders use a tungsten electrode to
Like most Midwestern artists of all disciplines, Chase Fisher has a day job: he’s a TIG welder at Fusion Tech Integrated in Roseville, Illinois.
Tungsten Inert Gas welders use a tungsten electrode to heat the metal and are used to weld steel, stainless steel, aluminum and other metals including gold. TIG is a useful welding process for wagons, bike frames, lawn mowers, and so on.
And some TIG guys who already have full plates like to make art in their spare time.
As the father of two little kids, Fisher has little spare time but he makes the most of it.
Fisher was initially undecided about having a booth at Sunday’s Snake Alley Art Fair. It lasts from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
“One of my coworkers, Matthew Hager, a phenomenal fabricator, encouraged me to do it,” Fisher said. “Matt was probably the one who helped me fully decide to do this.”
His best friend Pearson Johnson gets some of the credit, too.
“PJ is my best friend, rock, and best motivator I got,” Fisher said. “He has helped me fight to overcome some dark times, as he has fought himself. He pushes me to be the best version of me I can be.”
As Fisher’s weightlifting partner, Johnson helped him get back into shape after those dark times.
“He is my ‘ride or die’.”
Fisher has been welding for 12 years, the past five at Fusion Tech. He got into welding as an art form about four years ago.
“I originally wanted to be a tattoo artist, but back when I wanted to do it, there was no money and I got discouraged away from it,” he said. “I love what TIG welding looks like. I can just zone out and disappear, and it was a way to bring my art back to life. It’s kind of like tattooing with a welder.”
Instead of pen and paper, Fisher draws images on metal plates with his welder. The process begins when he etches his design with a Dremel tool using a paper template.
“I have done some freehand, where I draw on the metal with soapstone, but that is more for lettering,” Fisher said. “I haven’t ‘drawn-drawn’ one yet. I want to really bad; I want to do a full-on drawing of my own.”
Fisher begins with a flat sheet of metal and an image which he etches out by hand.
“The other guys I’ve seen do this, they cheat a little bit and have a machine do it,” he said with a grin.
Once the design is etched out, Fisher welds over the top of the eighth-inch stainless steel plate with his TIG welder. All the color comes from the steel, drawn out by differences in temperatures. The colors follow a predictable pattern, from chrome to straw to gold to blue to purple, with chrome being the coolest.
“The warmer the metal gets, I’ve noticed, the more of the blues and purples you will get,” Fisher said. “The golds are when it’s pretty cold and the proper gas coverage is happening.”
The heat can warp the metal, too.
“Once I have it welded, I’ll let it cool and then I’ll cut it free,” Fisher said. “The ones that warp really bad, I put in metal frames that can hold it flat.”
More gas coverage helps keep the metal cooler, thus Fisher can do his art pieces without warping the stainless severely.
This is Fisher’s first year trying to add color by varying the temperature of the weld.
“I’ve been progressively getting better,” he said. “I want to eventually do landscapes with this.”
The biggest piece Fisher can do right now is 16 inches square.
“That’s because of my cooling plate. I have to have such a thick one to keep the art piece cool enough,” Fisher said.
Fisher does all of his work in his garage and has not yet been swamped with orders beyond that capacity.
“There was one year during Christmas I sold a total of seven to eight pieces, and then I kind of went through a rough time and fell out of it for a while,” he said. “I turned down a dark path and had just been fighting that. I got out and went back to this. This and the gym; the gym and this are my happy places.”
Indeed: Fisher headed out for a workout after his interview.
Fisher is the father of two splendid children, Jaxton and Remi, and they will be on hand Sunday afternoon to help their dad with his art.
Jaxton, 5, said he likes to smoke meat with his daddy, among other things.
“I like to wrestle with him,” Jaxton said. “He wins most of the time.”
“My son and me will actually sit out here in the garage — I bought an extra hood for him — and he will watch me do the art pieces,” Fisher said. “I’ve been slowly teaching him how to weld.”
Remi, 3, revealed a little secret about her father.
“My daddy’s middle name is Allen,” she said.
“Jax and Remi completely adore their dad,” their mother Sammy Jackson said. “Watching Chase grow as a father and an artist has been awesome.”
Fisher said the money he makes at SAAF goes toward a vacation with his kids.
“I’m flying them out to Colorado, just me and them,” the artist said. “We’re going to go see my old college roommate and stay at his place, go to the Rockies, the Red Rocks, and hopefully a Rockies ballgame.”
Fisher coached Jaxton’s T-ball team this year.
“He loves baseball, he’d love to go to a Rockies game,” Fisher said.
Fisher, who does custom work by request, will be at slot 55 on the west side of North 7th street on Sunday. He and Jaxton and Remi will be happy to see you.
“Daddy, can we play outside?” Jaxton wondered.
You can at the Snake Alley Art Fair, Jax. All day long.
The Snake Alley Art Fair is held between on N. 6th and N. 7th streets, from Court St. to Columbia St. from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
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