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"Kevin's work has such a special spirit. The fountain he made for my backyard garden fits perfectly, and it always washes away my troubles at the end of a l"
--Karen Nestor, Caterer, Just Great Food, Phoenix, Arizona

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How to Bring Art to Life

One of Kevin's fans, Pops, is helping Kevin make one of his crickets, which are made out of a railroad spike and some metal rod.

Kevin shows a 1/4" copper plate they are going to use when TIG welding together the legs - because the metal pieces are so small, welding on the copper keeps the legs from sticking to the welding table.

They have enough metal cut for the smaller legs and the antennae, but they need a couple of the larger legs. Pops uses the horizontal bandsaw to cut the legs to size. Then he cleans up both ends of each rod on the bench grinder. That way, no matter how they weld it, the ends of the steel rods will be clean metal.

Although he's just learning to TIG weld, Pops tack welds together the leg parts. He asks about the big gap between the upper and lower part of the cricket's legs. Kevin explains that he could cut the leg parts at a 45 degree angle to get them to fit perfectly, but TIG welding them back together this way makes them look more organic, like real knees. "Otherwise, they just look like you cut them out of a piece of metal," says Kevin.

Kevin explains you could use a little drill press vise to hold up the leg parts and finish welding them, but it's easier to just tack them together, weld them onto the body, then create the knees.

Pops tack welds together the legs, then uses a polishing wheel to clean up both sides and the top of the head of the "nasty old spike" Kevin has chosen for the body. "You can see your reflection in that surface!" he says. Kevin then tack welds on each of the cricket's legs and its antennae.

Then you can see that the cricket's antennae go straight up, as if he were surprised. As soon as the cricket is all welded together, Kevin will use the oxygen-acetylene welder or anvil to shape the antennae and legs to make the cricket more lifelike.

First, though, he and Pops work together to bend the legs so they all reach the ground. Kevin heats up each leg that isn't touching with the TIG welder as Pops uses pliers to ease them down to the workbench.

Next Kevin finishes the knee joints. One of the reasons he loves TIG welding so much is that he can use the foot pedal to ease the amperage up and down, using the 1/8" filler rod to fill in the joint. Then he backs off the amperage and uses the 16 gauge filler rod to make the joint look more like a knee.

After he shapes the cricket's antennae and legs a bit, Kevin will rust it.

He thanks Pops for coming in to play, and is ready to go back to work, so you have time to watch Kevin unwittingly quote one of the '70s most iconic bands ....

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