Who We Are: Iron Maiden Metal Works welds with a feminine touch
Editor’s note: Who We Are features men and women embodying Grand Valley’s unique spirit. Send nominations to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tammy McCurry, owner and operator of Iron Maiden Metal Works in Loma, doesn’t look like your typical welder. The slender, tall woman began metal working as a hobby and as a way to get out of her office chair. Now she can often be found slamming a hammer on hot metal over her anvil to create unique pieces, biceps flexing.
“I like the physical work,” Tammy said. “ … Instead of seeing a piece of paper at the end of a day, I see a finished product when I weld things.”
Being a woman in a traditionally male-dominated profession means Tammy sometimes puts femininity aside. Burn marks and hair singeing is just part of a day’s work.
“I thought I was losing my hair,” Tammy said of the singeing. “Never cut off a finger though, just smashed a few.”
She’s not without help however; her husband of 25 years, Scott McCurry, often lends a hand in the shop when she’s feeling frustrated.
“He comes in with suggestions and a new eye,” Tammy said. “He’s a big critic of mine.”
Being a lady welder also means people sometimes mistake Tammy’s husband for her.
“When I talk to people about Iron Maiden, they often respond ‘Oh yeah, I know him,’” Tammy noted. “It’s challenging because a lot of men don’t think [welding is] for women.”
According to Scott, he often corrects those conversations, explaining: “No fellas, she’s the welder.”
CUSTOM WORK, UNIQUE TOUCH
Iron Maiden Metal Works creates everything from metal roses to large-scale projects including custom gates, oven hoods, lawn art, and even toilet-paper holders. A majority of Tammy’s work is custom, making pieces from a sketch or idea. Pricing varies, too; for instance, a custom outdoor lantern can cost anywhere from $150 to $1,000 depending on scale, hours worked, and detail put into the project.
“It’s a learning process the whole time,” she said.
Fifteen years ago, Tammy learned to weld, forge, and create layouts and design work through Hamble and Associates, a now defunct business based out of Grand Junction. She was an administrative assistant, eventually volunteering to help around the shop instead of hiring someone else. In 2009, her boss decided to retire, providing his client list as encouragement for Tammy to work on her own. Iron Maiden Metal Works was thus born five years ago, growing ever since.
A steady stream of projects means Tammy won’t have to worry about going back to a desk job any time soon; still she hopes the local economy will level out.
“The market for custom work is getting bigger out here,” Scott added.
Iron Maiden Metal Works pieces are available for purchase at Interiors, Etc. and Girlfriends in downtown Grand Junction, as well as Wine Country Inn in Palisade.
For more information, visit http://www.theironmaidenmetalworks.com or find her on Facebook.
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