Tue | Aug 4, 2015

Metallic art - From cold sheets to subtle designs

Published:Sunday | November 25, 2012
Wrought-iron furniture fabricated by Arthur Harriott. - Photo by Amitabh Sharma
Wrought-iron furniture fabricated by Arthur Harriott. - Photo by Amitabh Sharma
Intricate iron furniture created by Arthur Harriott. - Photo by Amitabh Sharma
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8

Amitabh Sharma, Contributor

Thomas Alva Edison's saying, "a genius is one per cent inspiration and 99 per cent perspiration", could fit Arthur Harriott, who is turning metal from its rustic form into subtle and intricate pieces of furniture and objects of daily use.

From bar stools, mirror frames, patio sets, tables and chairs, Harriott cuts, bends and lets his creative sparks fly as he welds pieces of metal together.

A self-taught
designer, he learnt the trade as a teenager. "I used to save money to
buy (the) latest tools," he said. Growing up in Bull Bay, Harriott did
welding as a vocational subject, graduated in 1992, and found a job at a
fabricating workshop to hone his skills.

"I used to
do evening classes at Kingston Technical and also got a certification
from HEART in welding," Harriott said.

Necessity is
the mother of all invention, it is said, and in 1997, his position was
made redundant. Instead of searching for another job, he decided to
start his own venture and began his journey of metallic
creation.

"I create my own designs," Harriott says,
adding that he draws inspiration from everywhere. "It could be a design
that I would have seen in a magazine, or a nice shape or design that I
would love to try on the items I am fabricating."

He
also delves into African design, fabricating masks and faces as an
element of design.

Fabricating items from sheets and
pipes of metal is a labour-intensive process, similar techniques as a
blacksmith are used: hammering, grinding, bending, forging and shaping
metal.

Harriott informed that he first sketches the
design on paper and then marks the design on the metal
sheet.

His furniture is made piece by piece. "The
metal has to be manually bent to give it the required shape," he
said.

Once the metal sheet or pipe gets the desired
shape, they are welded together. "The legs are made first, first the
front set and then the back to make a secure
base."

The seat or the top is then attached to the
legs, which has to be levelled manually too, hammered and shaped to get
the precise dimensions.

Once the frame is ready, it is
time to prep it by filing the surface to make it even and uniformed,
then a coat of primer is applied. When that has dried, it is then spray
painted. "The whole process might take three days to a week from start
to finish, depending on the size of the project," Harriott
said.

Hobby and passion

For him,
metal fabrication is not only a means to earn his living, but his hobby
and his passion. He is also making a difference in his own way by
providing employment to youth in his community in Bull Bay. "I have
(employed) three to seven youth in my workshop. I am happy that they are
doing something more worthwhile than sitting idle," he
says.

But he adds that there is a lot he can do for
the youth in the community if there is a constant flow of business.
"Proper marketing is my challenge," Harriott said. "I am streamlining
that, which will help a lot."

Over the years, he has
diversified into making gates, as well as staircases. "Those are
heavy-duty projects, and I incorporate the designs in them too,"
Harriott said that apart from his own designs, he can custom make
anything in metal according to client
specifications.

He said that people appreciate and
recognise the value of metal furniture, "it is an investment that lasts a

lifetime".

amitabh.sharma@hotmail.com