A critically acclaimed Dallas artist and second-generation welder, Albert Scherbarth makes hand forged pieces of art out of steel. One-of-a-kind sculptural designs that are meant to last—and delight—a playful mashup of form and function. Created in his workshop in an old South Dallas warehouse built by Delta Steel, a manufacturer of steel plates, tubes and bars. Fitting.
What thoughts come up when you hold the welding rod—a blazing 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit—in your hand?
I imagine all the little atoms getting all excited and dashing about by my wand as I squeeze the trigger. Compelled, ordered to become something else.
How do you know when it’s right, when a weld is done —complete?
“A roll of dimes!” That’s how one old-timer described the perfect weldment. Some welders use a figure eight motion or a series of Cs in a serpentine push-pull fashion to achieve union. But to see, to really look into the molten metal material, to witness the hot sun’s soup is essential for successful welding.
What do you wear to weld?
Steel-toe Red Wing boots like my dad used to wear, Dickies work pants, a long-sleeved t-shirt that I tuck in, leather gloves, a Nomex flame-resistant welding jacket, and a welding cap and helmet. Plus safety glasses with protective mesh sides that I buy in bulk in different colors. I’m wearing purple ones now.
All my work clothes are riddled with tiny burn holes from grinding or welding. But sometimes it’s hot or I’m in a rush, and I don’t suit up properly and invariably some errant spark falls into my shoe. I just say, “Dang it,” and wait. Experience has proven that by the time I take my shoe and sock off, the damage would already be done. Better to let the sock absorb it and deal with it later.
You’ve worked with all sorts of media in your career—glass, wood, ceramics, paper. Welding is something else altogether. It dangerous, it’s hard work, it’s hot. Why do you like creating art with steel?
With leverage and my strength or weight, it’s relatively easy to coax the steel into the curve or bend I desire. I like the dominion I have over the material. Bending steel is affirming. I do it for my own amazement.