December 9, 2021 // 9:58 AM

Crafting Christmas and Community

Written by Juanita Fox

Bob Collins is thankful for his fellow metal workers and their camaraderie and teamwork. The Garden Spot Village Metal Crafters include 15 men, some of whom are lifetime metalworkers, while others have just begun to learn.

Bob says, “I am so amazed and thankful for the ways Garden Spot Village has supported the metal shop.” Since the Metal Crafters started in 2017, the shop has grown.

“We have taken over the entire pole barn,” Bob adds. “We have invested in new machinery including a scroll bender, an upright metal forming machine and a MIG welder. Plus, we have heat now, which makes it possible to work year-round.”

Garden Spot is also thankful for the metal shop. In addition to their own projects, the metal workers provide repair services and new product design for Garden Spot Village. They recently completed a set of plant stands for the Chapel as well as nine metal Christmas trees. These projects included design as well as product fabrication.

The plant stands for the Chapel were a request by Bill Pratt, who wanted to donate something to the Chapel in memory of his wife. Chet approached Bob and asked, “Can you make something unusual?”

Bob and his fellow metal workers responded by creating four unique plant stands that featured beautiful steel scrollwork.

In late October, Scott Ruth approached Bob with the idea of a set of metal Christmas trees. Bob and the other men worked through designing the plans, ordering materials and fabricating the metal trees, which measure four, six and nine feet tall. The trees were powder coated green off-site before Steve Heydt, Campus Services, added lights. The trees were set in place in three locations on campus in late November.

“I am so thankful to Bill Ashley, Jim Sturgis, Andy Moretti, Roger Eichlin, Ed Blakeslee, Larry Welsh and Dale Hostetter for their help in building the Christmas trees. I couldn’t have completed the project without them,” Bob says.

Dale is thankful for the ways the metal shop has offered him an opportunity to learn and connect with his community. Dale says, “Working in the Metal Shop has allowed me to learn quite a few things I didn’t know anything about. It has also gotten me involved and connected with a lot of different people.”

Bob’s personal work can be found in The Artisans Corner, a new temporary shop located just off the Village Park at Garden Spot Village. Bob is donating the proceeds of his sales to the Metal Crafters to improve the machinery and equipment for the group.

Bob also hopes to grow resident involvement in the Metal Crafters in 2022, building the Metal Crafters in the years to come.