Friday, May 24, 2013

A Shop Tour, and a Little More

So, I'm graduating from college. This means that I'll be moving on to a different work space, so I wanted to take a moment to give a tour of the space I've been using (to make so many mistakes, and set myself on fire).

This is the metal shop at the University of New Mexico.

At first glance it appears to be pretty well equipped.
There are stations for Oxy-Acetylene welding, and a couple of MIG welders.

There is a collection of bench grinders and a drill press.

A break and a jump shear.

One natural gas forge and (ruined) anvil.

There's even a fairly sizable tool library containing hand tools and power tools.

However, once you start to look more closely, you begin to notice the out-of-order signs.
Years and years of abuse by thousands of inexperienced students has taken an obvious toll on the equipment here. Someone managed to tear the 3/4 inch thick 220v cord right out of the back of this TIG welder.

The pedal on this jump shear has been broken and re-welded by me and others countless times creating a blob of weld almost two inches wide.

This break needs a little dental work.

This sheet metal roller is so stiff it takes someone with more strength than I have to use it.

This thing actually does work, but I don't think anyone around here knows what it is or how to use it.

Similarly, as I understand it, this metal lathe and a bandsaw that I apparently forgot to take a picture of, work perfectly. Because of some bureaucratic dispute with the school's physical plant, and because of a lack of funds, they've been sitting here unwired for the entirety of the three years that I've been using this shop.

It's the same story in the wood shop.





By way of comparison. This is the metal shop at the Santa Fe Community College.

They have eight MIG welders.

Three TIG welders

Portable oxy-acetylene sets.

Private welding booths with fume shields.

A bunch of anvils and forges, both coke and propane (the right kind). The big yellow thing off to the left is a 1 ton hoist.

A hydraulic shear capable of cutting 1/8th inch thick steel.

A motorized sheet metal roller.
I believe this one can roll a five foot wide sheet of 14 gauge, whereas using the hand-crank one at UNM to roll a three inch wide piece of 18 gauge the other day required three people. Also, that green thing behind it and to the right is a seven foot long break.

Let's see, there's also a belt-disk sander, chop saw, bench grinders, kiln, horizontal bandsaw, sandblaster, plasma cutters, paint shield... I could go on.

Keep in mind that this is only the artistic-metalwork shop. They have two other metal shops for vocational welding, and two more shops of the same caliber just for woodworking.

The difference between these two facilities is that one has a huge amount of support from a city and community that believes in the importance of art education,

and one doesn't.

I'll allow you to draw your own conclusions.


  1. This is so fucking sad. I worked at the UNM sculpture shop as an undergrad, as an assistant of Fitz, and then later Dan Byrne. I studied there with a variety of sculpure professors, some great, some totally useless. The machinery was tip top, twenty or thirty years ago. I was shocked to see the condition of the shops and their equipment when I visited the shop a couple of summers ago. I noticed they were looking for a shop manager this past summer and applied. I didn't even get called for an interview. Now I think it's because those in charge would have been terribly embarrassed trying to explain how the shop fell into such hideous disrepair. That's the same anvil that was busted in 1992. Most of the machinery came from Kirtland Surplus, due to Fitz' connections. It totally sucks most of the machinery hasn't ever been replaced; it was already old and barely serviceable when I went through the program. What a damn shame.

  2. Art is vital, it is pitiful when the tools of our trade fall in to this kind of disrepair and abandon.

    But, as you graduate and move to your own studio your greatest tool is the soul you have set on fire...may it burn.

  3. I agree. It is extremely sad, and I'm not sure why it is, or at what point educational administrations decided that art should take a backseat to other subjects. Especially football.

    If any of you come up with an answer, I'd love to hear it. Thanks for your comments!