Sophomore George Sidles is known for the metalwork he does on his home island of
Bainbridge. After starting about 3 years ago, he has been interested in the craft ever since.
“In seventh and eighth grade I attended a couple intro to welding camps that got me interested [in metalwork].” said Sidles.
Sidles has done some work in welding and blacksmithing but has spent most of his time on casting: a process done by pouring molten metal into a mold and letting it cool into a hardened form.
“I have been doing casting for almost a year,” said Sidles. “I dabbled in blacksmithing at a pre-industrial themed camp a couple years back but only got around [to build] my own forge last summer. In the case of welding I still don’t have my own equipment and only did it at my summer internship last year.”
Sidles even took up a summer internship in a metal fabrication shop, which took up most of his vacation.
“I worked as a shop assistant installing wiring and stainless steel cabinets in a food truck, repairing trucks and motorcycles, maintaining equipment, and helping to design and complete whatever projects came in,” said Sidles.
Sidles also worked with children as a TA at an industrial arts school, teaching them how to safely use equipment and tools.
“I’ve also worked as needed as a TA for Alchemy Industrial Arts School, located in the same building [as the metal fabrication shop]. While the kids worked on building and launching rockets and kinetic devices in class, my role was to instruct them in proper use of dangerous tools and basically keep them from destroying themselves and others,” said Sidles. “I was asked to collaborate on curriculum design, which I really enjoyed.”
Sidles was even able to complete his independent art credit by welding together a forge and smelting aluminum, copper, and mixed alloys.
RAHS freshman Nic Nemeth also lives on Bainbridge, and has been friends with Sidles since 6th grade. He has been by Sidles’ side since he started working with metal.
“At first the biggest part was just melting down steel cans into ingots, which then could be casted into whatever the mold was, so for a significant portion of the time it was really just melting down cans,” said Nemeth, “but now I know he’s been working on knives, and I’ve actually looked at the finished project, and they look really good.”
Sidles doesn’t focus on making his work look good, though. Most of his effort is put into ensuring that whatever he’s making is useful.
“My work is almost entirely functional,” said Sidles. “I always try to make what I fabricate look good, but form always comes after function.”
Sidles talks about metalworking often, especially with Nemeth, who frequently helps when George is looking for more components for his work.
“He talks about it a lot. Both him and I have been looking at different components. He did make his [components] by himself,” said Nemeth. “He often talks to either me or my dad when it comes to looking for new pieces for him to obtain.”