Nearby was a flounder made of eating utensils, rebar and grating.
Over there was a giant turtle made of washers, mild steel and rebar.
Yonder was one flip-flop made of the same material.
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“We’ve got to make the other one first thing in the morning so we’ve got a pair,” Brenda Cook said in the Vista Gallery at Harbor Vista Hotel and Marina.
“Can’t have just one flip flop, right?” Heide Parson said.
Maybe no one would notice, for all the neat metal sculptures — blue crabs, palm trees, hibiscus — the 50ish pair have made for their exhibit: Women Welders Working Wonders.
There were more than a dozen on display and will be there through September.
“What creativity,” said hotel and marina manager Angela Washington, whose brother Henry Lawrence is the owner. “Who’d think of making fish out of forks and knives?”
Nuts and bolts, too.
Cook and Parson is who.
“We get metal from everywhere — junkyards included,” Parson said.
Laid off last year from their jobs at a wire-and- cable factory in Somerset, Ky., the artistically inclined women — Cook’s into woodwork; Parson paints — returned to Bradenton, enrolled at Manatee Technical Institute and took up welding.
“Metal is fascinating,” said Cook, a 54-year-old Southeast alum. “It’s a different medium.”
“I’ve always wanted to learn how to weld,” said Parson, a 54-year-old Manatee High alum. “I thought it would be cool — and it is. We love it.”
That shows in their art.
Last April, Cook and Parson collaborated with Amber Murphy, 22, another MTI welding student, in a gold medal-winning project at the 43rd Florida Skills USA Conference at the Manatee Civic Center.
The prize-winner — metal maps of the United States, Florida and Manatee County — is also on display at the Vista Gallery.
The exhibit is a homecoming of sorts, too.
“We used to come here years ago,” when it was a Holiday Inn, Hanson said. “This is a cool place, a fun place to party.”
They hope it’s good for business, too.
“We’re hoping to market these, sell them and make more designs,” Parson said. “This is the first step.”
More local artists will be featured in the future, Washington said.
“We want to reach out to the community and find youth interested in artwork,” she said.
Vin Mannix, local columnist, can be reached at 745-7055.
If you go
What: Women Welders Working Wonders Where: Harbor Vista Hotel and Marina, 7150 N. Tamiami Trail, Bradenton. When: Exhibit runs 5 to 7 p.m. tonight and continues through September. Call: (941) 306-5893