Anniversary present for his wife was start of Kyle Stewart’s art
RANGELY I By trade, Kyle Stewart is a welder. It runs in the family.
His passion, however, is using his welding skills to create metal art.
Stewart remembers the day he began making metal art. It was Sept. 15 last year.
“It was me and the wife’s second wedding anniversary,” Stewart said. “I didn’t want to go out and buy her a rose and watch it die. So I decided I would try to make her a (metal) rose. I did, and as soon as I did it, everyone wanted one. Then I tried other flowers, and everyone wanted them.”
But, by far, Stewart’s biggest project has been a life-size bald eagle. He worked from photographs.
“I wanted to make a scale project and I was looking through some pictures and saw one of a guy who made a giant eagle. That inspired me to see if I could make one,” Stewart said. “Basically, my one thing since I started doing my metal art, I wanted to try and challenge myself. I wanted to see if I could do it.”
During the day, Stewart works in the family business — Stewart Welding.
“My dad (Eddie) and my grandpa started this business,” Stewart said. “Everyone who works here is some part of the family.”
After work hours, Stewart spent time cutting and welding pieces for the eagle.
“It has up to 512 feathers that I cut and ground and bent each one,” Stewart said. “I cut and welded every individual piece. I cut every piece to fit the way I wanted it to and welded it into place, which is pretty much what a welder does.”
Stewart has been welding for about five years.
“The one thing that inspired me to be a welder, I always wanted to be a blacksmith. I wanted to be able to forge metal. A blacksmith, you heat the metal and hammer it into shape. A welder, you cut things into shape and weld them together. It’s more of a fabrication; the other is more of an art.”
Stewart began working on the eagle in January and finished in March.
“I worked on it an hour or two here and there,” he said. “I figure I have 130 to 140 hours in it.”
“He’s got a lot of time in it,” his wife, Ashley, said.
Besides welding, metal art also runs in the family. Stewart’s aunt Lynda Cady makes metal yard flowers.
“That just kind of inspired me to do it,” Stewart said.
Cady was impressed when Stewart undertook the eagle project.
“That’s an awesome eagle,” Cady said. “But I figured if he put his mind to it, yeah, I knew he could do it.”
Stewart, a 2007 Rangely High graduate, also was inspired by Julia Davis, who was his art teacher in middle school and high school.
“She always tried to challenge us, if there was something we couldn’t do, she would try to inspire us to do it anyways,” Stewart said. “We weren’t allowed to erase. You finished drawing, even if you made mistakes.”
If Stewart made a mistake on the metal eagle, or he wasn’t happy with something, he fixed it.
“There were plenty of times I got feathers down, but I would tear them off and grind off the welds,” he said. “Once I tore them off, they were ruined and I couldn’t use them again.”
Asked if he was a perfectionist, Stewart said, “When it comes to my art, yeah.”
“It is a pleasure to see Kyle put together his welding skills and his love of creating,” his art teacher Davis said. “He has always been self motivated with high standards for his artwork; trying new approaches and new techniques. I can’t wait to see what he comes up with next.”
The finished metal eagle has a wing span of four and a half feet, is 30 inches tall and weighs between 50 and 60 pounds.
Stewart hasn’t decided whether to sell the eagle or keep it.
“I have been debating selling him,” Stewart said. “I don’t know. If someone came around with a good amount of money, I would sell him. It just depends who has the money and how much into art they are. Other than that, I would keep him at my house. We’re still trying to find a spot for him.”
Since finishing the metal eagle, which he clear-coated, Stewart has taken a break before deciding on his next art project.
“I’ve got quite a few ideas in my head,” Stewart said. “Before I built the eagle, I was going to build an elk. Then I got to thinking I wanted to build a panther and donate it to the high school (the Rangely mascot). I’m just going to take a break from it and let my mind wander. An idea will pop up and I’ll build it.”