I have always admired and been inspired by the artists who donate their work to the annual BICAS Art Auction. It has always been one of my favorite events of the year!
In 2015, my son, Nathan Franklin who was working at BICAS, and my husband, Mark, made a few pieces to donate to the BICAS art auction. It looked like fun so I designed two pieces – a sea turtle and seahorse wall decoration – and asked Nathan and Mark to weld them when they were making theirs. After seeing these pieces in the auction that year I was excited.
I think Nathan could see I was going to be asking him to weld quite a bit for me in the future. Instead he told me that I could learn to weld and he would teach me. He started bending metal for a 5 foot shark, patiently teaching me techniques and how to weld, how to use the grinding and wire wheels, as we designed the shark. Soon after, he went back to college and I continued to learn and experiment with metalworking. It took me many welds to get better but I could see progress in both my technique and my art. After many burnt fingers, abrasions and dirty nails I still love the process!
For the auction in 2016 I made a dolphin that hung from the ceiling and a giraffe sculpture. I never would have guessed that I would have become a metalcraft artist at the age of 50!
I think the biggest thing was nobody
told me that I couldn’t do it, so I did.
Where do I get used bike parts to use for my art?
BICAS – 2001 N 7th Ave, Tucson AZ 85705
Single Track Bike Shop – 575 W Riordan Rd, Flagstaff AZ 86001
Where do I get the metal I use?
Tucson Iron & Metal – I try to buy used metal parts, however sometimes I do have to buy new steel rod or rebar if recycled is not available.
Also, any left-over metal from my husband’s and son’s projects is fair game. They do remind me that their good bike parts are not.
What kinds of metal sculpture do I create?
Mainly, pieces made with used bicycle parts and other used metal. I like making animal sculptures. Nature is what motivates me to make my art.
Sometimes the used metal pieces that I have suggest what I should make. This is especially true for the smaller art I make. For the larger sculptures, I select parts that help shape the art.
My most complex sculptures I have made to date are a 5′ tall dragon for the BICAS Art Auction in 2017 and a life-size baby elephant for their 2018 auction.
Recently I was commissioned by friend who is also a shark biologist to make a 9′ life-size hammerhead shark to hang in the entryway to his house. It was a challenging as well as rewarding experience. It was so cool to see his face when I delivered the shark!
Check out more of Cathy Franklin’s work!
Find her on Facebook at Cate Franklin Designs and follow her on Instagram @cathy_3dogs