Scrap metal has a special appeal to me…it’s been discarded from its original purpose, and then I give it new life. This metal could have a unique shape or surface, or be a plain as a piece of sheet metal. When I see it, I don’t think about what it is, but what it might become.
My process usually starts with the metal. I look at its shape and form, texture and color, and feel its weight in my hand, and its surface on my fingertips. All of this sparks my creativity and plays into the design. The life it has led shows in the rust and wear, and all this has its own organic beautify before I even begin.
Some of the ways I integrate my design is by laying small bits of punched metal onto hefty pieces of steel, creating a composition with multiple remnants, or by combining large graceful curved steel pieces an unexpected way. Sometimes it is a simple as conceptualizing a tree or flower on a piece of steel that seems to beg for an organic form.
Design and creation continues as I start to weld and add heat. I’m always mesmerized by this transformation. Strong metal starts to give, and then turns quickly into a molten pool. Then just as quickly it's hard and strong again. But the metal has changed … melded with another shape, or transformed by the texture of the added welds. I build up the welds to simulate the surface of bark, or an abstract pattern, each created as much by its texture as it is by its shape.
The metal, for me, is key for telling my story in my art. The rustic metal has traveled and served a purpose, and now is transformed into something else; something just as purposeful as its original function. The shape, holes, and texture add visual and tactile elements that are vital to the whole story. When I combine this with both organic and iridescent hues, it sends the metal, and me, on a new, artistic journey.
Growing up in Virginia, Angela Ridgway never thought about being an artist. Her goal was logical: go to college and get a good job. But after getting a glimpse of welding in a college course, her interest in metal work sparked. That was her first hands on experience … she was mesmerized by turning metal into a red hot molten puddle. That image stayed with her through college and work in the corporate world in California and abroad. Finally, she enrolled in classes at the community college to learn both welding and metal art techniques.
Not long after she started creating, Angela was invited to participate in the show ‘For the Love of Trees’ in a Sacramento gallery. That was the catalyst for turning the process of welding into the process of creating art. Inspired by the Valley Oaks in the Sacramento region, her first body of work used welds to create the textures of the majestic trees.
Angela broadened her self-taught technique of ‘painting with welds’ to include other plants, flowers, abstract images, and textured sculptures. She primarily uses repurposed steel and offsets the look of rusted steel with shiny welds and iridescent paints. Since moving to Washougal in southwest Washington state and setting up a studio in downtown Vancouver, Washington, Angela has begun to include Pacific Northwest themes into her repertoire of welded trees.
Angela gets inspiration from things she sees while traveling, as well as a simple shape or pattern she sees while walking her dog. But many times it is the metal itself. A trip to China inspired her Asian themed garden bells. Rust and water patterns inspire many of her abstract works. One of her latest themes was inspired by soap bubbles.
Creating custom art work is something also Angela enjoys. “I love working closely with clients, creating a unique work of art for a showcase location in their home. I get to know the people that my art will live with and the place it will call home. It is a special treat for me when I get to do that!”
Her work is in many private residences throughout the U.S. and has been shown at the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens in Fort Bragg, California. Most recently, her work was purchased for public display in the greater Portland, Oregon area. She has work in galleries in Beaverton, OR and Camsa, WA. She is also available for commissioned works for private collectors, and public art, and corporations.