Open Daily 9-5 pm & FREE to the Public
80-1 Lyme Street · Old Lyme, CT 06371
Guy McIntyre of Tilton showcases his welding skills by creating animal sculptures as well as abstract art.
“It takes all my talents as a welder and fabricator to make something like that,” he says as he stands next to a giant blue heron he crafted out of aluminum. The wings are made of diamond plate creating the appearance of feathers.
“I’ve worked on planes, trains, automobiles, ships, bridges and high-story buildings,” he said.
On a recent afternoon at his shop on Rte. 3 in Tilton, McIntyre just finished repairing an aluminum carburetor for an antique car. The owner was unable to locate another one.
“Anything can be repaired, it’s a matter of ‘how much do you want to spend?’” he says.
Standing behind his GMC truck, McIntyre points to the rear bumper. Made of all aluminum, he has created a flip-top bumper that has storage for his jack and other tire repair accessories along with an assortment of tools. He said he is working to get a patent on the design.
“I believe if I can’t make it I don’t need it,” he says.
McIntyre said he started welding in 1978 and quickly learned TIG, which stands for Tungsten and Inert Gases. The core of the tip of the welder is made of tungsten which has a very high melting point, he explained. A foot control allows him to increase or decrease the amount of electricity, and hence heat going to the torch, and by touching a filler wire against the metal to be welded, McIntyre explains he creates a puddle of molten metal and is able to “build up the weld.”
He explained he crafted his first “wind sculpture” out of scrap aluminum. It stood 20 feet tall and had a six-foot diamond hanging from it that rotated in the wind. He said he built it as a means to advertise his skills. It sat in front of the shop for just five weeks before someone paid $5,000 to buy it.
McIntyre has also crafted a nine-foot-tall, ostrich-like bird. It’s body was made of a hub from a snowmobile trailer and allowed the long neck bird to swivel up and down in the wind. It’s curled tail feathers were crafted of leaf springs.
“I don’t throw anything away,” McIntyre says as he flips through an album that contains photographs of many pieces of his work.
Walking past a rusting 55-gallon drum one day, McIntyre recounted that, to him, a section of it looked like a parrot. He sketched it and then cut it out. The rib on the barrel creates the branch the bird stands on. McIntyre said he gave his first creation to his brother, a devout fan of musician Jimmy Buffett, whose admirers are known as “parrotheads.”
He uses the bottom and tops of old barrels to make a turtle container that is just the right size to hold a watering hose.
McIntrye’s daughter is also a cheerleader for the Winnisquam High School Timberwolves and he crafted a miniature wolf howling at the full moon that glows with the light of a candle.
He said he got interested in welding as a teen after he dropped his motorcycle and broke a side panel, necessitating a trip to a local welding shop. When he paid the hourly rate for the work, McIntyre decided welding would allow him to make a good livelihood. He said he did an unpaid apprenticeship at a friend’s shop for about a year before he struck out on his own. While he has been able to make a living for 15 years without leaving his Tilton property, the depressed economy has changed that.
Recently, McIntyre has hired on with a company that does maintenance on power plants. McIntyre TIG welds boiler tubes in steam-producing plants that are powered by burning trash, wood and coal.
People interested in learning more about McIntyre’s art can look for the open sign in the window at his shop at the junction of Rte. 3 and Noyes Road near Lochmere Country Club or can call 286-2791.