Tell us a bit about yourself (name, location, affiliations, personal stuff).
My name is Chris Foster and I live in a old red house in Indianapolis, that has been refurbished, with my wife Melanie and baby girl Phoebe. I work at home in my 2.5 car detached garage, office is in the basement and my business is FOSTERWELD.
I started welding 9 years ago in Tucson Arizona, where I went to college and got my degree in Welding & Machine Technology. I worked for a dozen different fabricators and machine shops. My most memorable job was with Doug Thompson Studio in Tucson where he taught me the balance of work and play, and how to be a “productive artist”, not relying on one piece a year to bring in my income, but rather be efficient with fabricating and turning out more than one piece at a time, lowering the price, paying yourself well….. everybody is happy. After working with Doug I fell in love with the trade, so I have pursued it full blast ever since.
I am affiliated with AWS, the American Welding Society and have my Inspection License through them, and teaching credentials too. I inspect Cell Phone towers and teach welding classes one night a week on the side.
There is a huge shortage of welders in this country, so I love giving back and teaching this trade that has endless possibilities and opportunities around the globe. It is also my mission to bring the GLAM & SEX back into the trade, and that is where FOSTERWELD comes to play. I enjoy taking raw material, and transforming it into a wearable piece of art, or decorating a house with American steel, instead of imported wood from God knows where.
What is the first thing you can remember making by hand? How and why did you make it?
A robot costume made from cardboard boxes, aluminum foil and random accessories in 1987 at a YMCA day camp. My first metal piece was a picture frame it was rough… real rough. I made it in my welding class in college just to see what I could do and to experiment with the material.
What inspires you? Where do your ideas come from?
My ultimate inspiration comes from the Industrial world. I am fascinated with just about anything that is manufactured, and the process that it takes to take a piece of raw material to final product, whether it is a bridge, a building, furniture, a park bench… everything.
I love architecture, and the enormous task it is to take a blue print and create a 30 story Steel, Glass and Cement sculpture that is completely functional. I dare you to stand in a below ground parking garage, downtown Chicago, under a 25 story hotel and really think about the massive heap of material that is above your head. And to think that someone can flush a toilet on the 23rd level and it magically finds its way to the waste-water plant 3 miles down the road. Simply Amazing. I am particularly fascinated with Frank Gehry’s work, and more-so the construction teams that have the courage to build his designs.
FOSTERWELD projects are usually eclectic, and are gathered ideas from previous projects, or something listed above that has inspired me.
What are your favorite materials?
Metals: steel, aluminum, stainless
Glass, wood, plastics, leather and Spray Paint.
What have been the most valuable lessons learned from other artists on Etsy ?
To keep it personal. When you ship a package, you are shipping a small piece of you. Allow the customer to KNOW that they are truly getting something handmade and unique. I try to include a small story about FOSTERWELD, and some extra business cards to allow the customer to spread the love, if that is what they want.
Why should people buy handmade?
Because the products are truly unique and not mass produced. There are usually small flaws in something handmade, which makes a product more desirable to me. It also fuels the income of the “self employed” and helps their livelihood. It has taken me 9 years of education, and 80 hour work weeks for the past 5 years to create and grow my product line. I just quit my day job in May and am working for myself FULL TIME. Without the customers, I’m back working for the man.
What features/services would you most like to see on Etsy?
Easier way to upload products. Like when you upload your shipping profile… Upload “buckles” and it automatically has all the appropriate tags. I hope a million others have suggested this, cause its a pain in the You-Know-What to upload each individual product.
Apart from creating things, what do you do?
Spend time with the Wife and Kid. I love them so much. I enjoy BBQ’s in the backyard with friends or family, conversations on the front porch over a cup of coffee or a bottle of Microbrew beer. I love the outdoors and anything affiliated with being outside and wish Indiana had more hills or mountains to climb, and less Poison Ivy in the woods. Its too flat here, especially when you are born and raised in the Wild West, where the Rockies are in your backyard. I also play and listen to music in the basement with my friend Steve, the best drummer I personally know, next to John Bonham of Zeppelin or Darren King of Mute Math ( which I do not personally know).
Read any good books lately?
Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer and PSALMS and 1 Peter in the BIBLE.
In ten years I’d like to be…
Doing what I do now, only in Hood River Oregon.