October’s Featured Artist is Nathan (Nate) Balog, a Brantford metal artist and the owner of Nate’s Custom Metal Worx.
Balog began working for a steel manufacturer in his early teens, where he learned basic welding techniques through trial and error. His biggest inspiration was his grandfather, Nicholas Balog, who could regularly be found working in his shop on different wood projects. “When I saw how he could build anything…” Nathan recalls, “…I wanted to learn to do the same.”
His father also taught him how to work with his hands and showed him that even if he couldn’t afford the very best, he could always get the job done with what he had. With mentoring and teaching from his family, he quickly learned that with a little hard work, anything is possible.
Balog appreciates the beauty of Brantford’s natural environment, and loves to hike and cycle through Brantford’s extensive trail system; in fact, his passion for cycling is what started his journey into artistic welding! His first metal project was a 10.5’ long chopper-style bicycle, which he worked on for over 4 years to make sure the piece was perfect. After being told that it wasn’t possible over and over, his first ride on his custom bike made him realize that “anything I could conceive could be built with determination.”
This determination continues to serve him well, and is what he’d advise developing artists to focus on as well. “Never let anyone tell you it won’t work or it would be too hard,” he says. “You can make anything you put your mind to. Picture it, plan it, and just go for it!”
For Balog, artistic welding is a game of patience and skill, and he is always learning something new about his craft – from a new way to bend steel to a new tool to help him work in tight spaces. He considers welding to be therapeutic for him, and loves how the focus required for his craft allows his troubles and his worries to melt away while working. Recently, he’s begun working on making replicas of cars, including a 1960s Chevrolet Corvette that he is constructing using only a hammer and anvil to shape the steel into the sleek curves of the vintage car. He’s also created a number of steel dragons that are popular with his clients.
For more information about Nathan Balog’s work, visit Nate’s Custom Metal Worx on Facebook.