NS: She had been doing welding every year?
JP: Pretty much, yeah. She used to go often for two weeks, and do it for two weeks of the year, and then put it to the side. So that would have been probably almost ten years ago now, when I tried it for the first time. And I had no idea what I was doing, I was just melting stuff together, mostly just anything I made that year has by now fallen apart. And then the next year I learned a little bit more, and tried it again. You know, ever year I went back, and then it came to pass that my ex-husband and I divorced. So then it became the thing I looked forward to—it shaped the whole rest of the year. Just get to Ghost Ranch. You got to just get to Ghost Ranch. And then it got to be where I started thinking well, what I would do? And I would make plans—and all contingent upon what would the junk pile have, because we used all scrap metal. So that little scrap table there [motioning to CIADC metalworking department scraps], picture it about fifty times bigger. That’s what we would weld with, and pick through, and you know, chase the spiders and snakes out of the stuff. And then, I guess a year or so ago I said, you know, maybe I could do this more than just Ghost Ranch. I had actually seen the classes at the Evanston Art Center a few years before, and I thought, oh—that sounds way too structured, I don’t want to do that. Because Ghost Ranch is not, you know. . . .
NS: They just want to keep you safe and let you go?
JP: Safe enough, actually, because, you know, it’s guests coming for a week. So, they say: Natural fibers, closed toed shoes, long sleeves . . .
JP: . . . if you have gloves, bring them. But we have gloves. Some of the other techniques they would teach us promoted more safety. We quenched the stuff every time we finished a weld, and so on. And there was a lot of close supervision, of course, but not strict teachers. But anyway, last year I said, let me just try this class. If I hate it, I’ll never do it again. And I almost didn’t take it. I went to visit the class in Evanston, and I met Dominic, and I watched the people working. And it smelled just right, it looked familiar, felt familiar. But the thought of sheet metal and bar stock and all that, just intimidated the heck out of me. I don’t think I can take a class, I won’t know what to do with that stuff, and I don’t have enough scrap, it’s hard for me to collect scrap in my daily life.
NS: Sure. [General laughter]