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Metal Worker Expert Handcrafts "Big Art"
Long after he's gone, Mike Beaudoin's steelwork will welcome visitors to ranches, mark the passing of loved ones and offer places to sit in a park. The Weyburn, Saskatchewan, man uses a plasma cutter - hand controlled, not computerized - to create metal signs and artwork for his clients.
  "People have an image of what matters to them," Beaudoin explains. "Sometimes they have a photo. They give me full rein to create from that."
  With some signs stretching up to 66 ft. long, the metal artist usually works outside to weld his artwork together. He deals with nature's elements, whether it's summer heat or 40 below zero in the winter.
  "I like to use old machinery or old steel that's 1/4 to 3/8 in. thick and solid steel pipe," Beaudoin says. In the heart of oil country, he picks up old oil tanks and other metal inexpensively whenever he can. "Lots of time people have material themselves."
  For example, Beaudoin has incorporated reins from a family's original horse team. He's used wagon wheels, tractor seats and horseshoes. The art is personal - such as a silhouette of a family at a rodeo
  While Beaudoin enjoys the challenge of big art work, he also likes working with his wife, Debbie, who helps design memorial benches. Many are 6 to 8 ft. long and weigh up to 600 lbs., such as an angel bench for a cemetery or a memorial bench at a hunting club.
  Beaudoin has hand drawn and cut everything from bison to entire ranch scenes with horses, people, wagons and houses. He hasn't done any advertising, but he stays busy through word of mouth. Besides creating pieces for locals, he does commissioned pieces for tourists from Canada and the U.S. Pieces are left natural or finished with paints or plastic coatings.
  Beaudoin credits his skills to his father, who was a farmer and blacksmith who made and fixed equipment.
  "I started welding when I was six years old," Beaudoin says, adding that he was always more interested in the artistic side of metalwork. One of his favorite pieces is the grave marker he made for his parents. His father's old anvil supports two hearts with "Love Forged in Steel" written in his mother's handwriting.
  "My work is all hand-crafted and designed to last for decades," Beaudoin says. "That's what I work for, that it becomes a family heirloom."
  Prices range from a few hundred dollars for small pieces to $30,000 for huge signs. Beaudoin notes that shipping costs are reasonable to anywhere in the U.S. and Canada. He does the artwork and provides plans for a local welder to assemble it on site.
  Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Mike Beaudoin, 29 9th St. N.E., Weyburn, Sask., Canada S4H 1E6 (ph 306 848-1709; dld203@hotmail.com).

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2008 - Volume #32, Issue #6