Sparks Fly: Cape Artisan Rachel Paolino
After graduating from Rhode Island College with a BFA in sculpture, Paolino welded here and there and occasionally showed her work in exhibitions. “I did photography, actually, to make money,” she reveals. Then, while working at Stonewood Products as a sales rep, she took on side projects for the contractors and designers she’d meet. “Eventually I was able to get enough work where I could leave there and just do this as my main source of income,” she says.
Paolino launched Welding Creations in 2016, now based in Harwich. Her work is mostly custom commissions, from builders, designers, masons and homeowners. While she mainly works in steel, Paolino says she looks for ways to combine materials and accent her metalwork with wood, copper, brass, Plexiglass or Lexan. “I made these architectural doors that were steel framed with these glass resin inserts that had a cool gauze inside,” she notes. In her sculptural wall art—her most popular pieces are her striped bass and mermaids, which typically measure between 2-5 feet—Paolino will incorporate found objects, like strings from an old guitar in her guitar sculpture, or even just scraps she has left over from a previous project—something just small enough that it makes for a perfect eye for one of her sea creatures. “I love contrast,” she says. “Especially wood and metal together, the metal is so hard and a man-made object, and then wood is this beautiful, soft, naturally occurring thing. They’re so different, but I can make them work together, and they become one object.”
For Paolino, the creation process is an adventure. “Usually I have to make some kind of jig first so that I can use the jig to make the actual piece,” she explains. “Pretty much every project is different, and I have to figure out how to do it every time because it’s something new.”
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