Yardie Interviews → Tim Ferland

Tim Ferland

Tim Ferland: Artist, Instructor, Art Production Manager
Hometown: Providence
Website: www.metaltooth.com (coming soon)
Favorite tool: Slate chisels

How long have you been involved at the Steel Yard?
I first started with Brower [Hatcher of Mid-Ocean Studio] in 2006, I didn’t even know how to weld then!
So, what were you doing for Brower then? I was doing general labor and manufacturing work that he needed. From there, Howie [Sneider] offered me a place in a Weld To Work program. I don’t think that it was officially called Weld To Work at that point; but there were twelve of us in the program who were taught how to weld and fabricate trashcans.
You went on to work in Public Projects? Yes. I was also working for Brower at the same time, and was able to become more involved in the welding and fabrication jobs instead of all the general labor stuff. I fell in love with metalworking, and things just took off from there.

Last year, you were the lead instructor for the Weld To Work programs, how was that experience for you?
Yeah, it’s been really nice to be involved in Weld to Work because I know what can happen for the participants based on my personal experience. I can only hope something similar would happen for another Weld to Worker. Being the teacher, I have the chance to help them learn new skills and to start a life changing process. There are certain students who you can tell are really into metalworking and who stay involved after the program ends. It’s been very gratifying to teach this program, and to watch the participants blossom.
How long have you been teaching the Weld To Work classes?
Last fall was the first time that I taught, and it was three sessions that were three weeks each.
Do you think you’d like to teach Weld To Work again in the future?
Oh yeah!

So, you’ve recently been hired by the Yard to be the new Art Production Manager, what does that mean?
I help Howie out with Public Projects, making sure that everything runs smoothly, that the artists have what they need, and I make sure that the shop is set-up.  Public Projects has grown so much, one person just can’t handle it all alone, I don’t know how Howie was doing it all by himself before! So, I’m basically there to assist him and make sure that the work gets completed and installed correctly.
When’s the last time that you worked on a Public Project?
It was actually right before I took the Art Production Manager job, in June. I worked on the fence for William D’Abate Elementary School.
Do you think that being Art Production Manager you’ll still be able to work on Projects?
Unfortunately, I don’t think I’ll be able to do both, which is a bit of a bummer because I really love building stuff. It’s kind of my passion; especially at the Steel Yard where the artists get to conceptualize, design, build, and finish the piece. Even working with the client, there is a lot of control that you have over what you’re doing, and it’s a lot of fun. I might be able to sneak in a Public Project here and there, but not in the way that I was doing before.

Do you think that because you won’t be working on as many Public Projects in the future that you’ll concentrate on making your own pieces?
Yes, I really enjoy fabricating large-scale sculpture. It’s probably one of my most favorite things to do. It’s great because you always start fabricating with a plan or a framework, but there are always hiccups in the plan that you have to problem solve. I love that problem solving aspect, it’s fun to have to adapt and tweak your ideas to make the sculpture work. Someday, I’d love to get into making public art.

So, do you have a studio that you work out of?
Yeah, I have a studio at my house. It’s a two bay garage that I’m still in the process of setting up. But, it’s great to have my own space now. I plan on using this space to lean more towards the creative side of fabrication, sculpture making, and so on.  Recently, I’ve been working on letter cutting in slate, which is a traditional method of engraving text into slate using chisels. I can cut reliefs and etchings into slate, but because of the way the material is layered it’s not really possible to sculpt it three dimensionally.

How do you do it all?

(laughing) Very long hours… You’ve just got to ‘do it’, if you want to get anywhere. You have to find the motivation and work your butt off.

If you could have one super power, what would it be?
This might be a pretty lame answer, but I think it would be to fly. Who doesn’t want to fly? And then you wouldn’t ever be stuck in traffic!
Yeah, you might have storage issues though, what do you do if you’re flying home from the grocery store?
I’d just get the groceries delivered (laughing)!

What’s your favorite tool?
That’s a tough one; it’s always different and changes a lot depending on what I’m teaching myself. Right now, I’d have to say it’s my slate chisels. They’re brand new! Besides that, I really like anvils, too.


W2W 2011
Tim with one of the Weld To Work teams that he led last fall