January 2020

Jim B Herbert

Website: wavesofsteel.net
Instagram: waves_of_steel

  • Jim Herbert
  • Jim Herbert
  • Jim Herbert
  • Jim Herbert
  • Jim Herbert

Tell us a little about yourself.

I was born in San Francisco, CA, and later moved to Santa Cruz. I grew up during the 60’s, amongst a large family of 10 children and a single mom. Having no other choice but to be independent and self-sufficient, I started working at an early age, and eventually opened and operated my own auto collision repair and restoration business. 

In this business, I restored old classic cars: Porches, Alpha Romeos, Volkswagens, old trucks etc. Replacement parts for these old cars were sometimes impossible to find, so I used whatever metal was necessary to fabricate the vehicles. Then I’d measure, cut, shape, bend, pull, reform, weld and grind the metal to fit together to restore the car back to its original beauty. I learned metal work is hard work.

Now, in my retirement, I have moved away from cars, and have a whole new passion and desire to create art.  Instead of fabricating cars for others, I get to fabricate what is in my own imagination.

What is your favorite tool and why?

My welding gun is my favorite tool. I love playing with metal and fire. I like adding and subtracting. It is exciting, and almost seems a little dangerous. My welding gun is a like a magic paintbrush of fire. 

Which materials do you create with most and what is your attraction to using them?

I create my sculptures using any kind of scrap metal. I will select the type of metal, or steel, or rod that will fit best with the image I have formed in my imagination to create. After selecting the metal, I begin cutting, grinding, shaping, forming, and welding the pieces of metal into the shape I want. Metal is a great medium to use because it enables me to try a piece here, move it around over there; each piece makes a contribution to the building of the sculpture.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?

My art mostly revolves around the ocean.  Often, I see something in my environment that inspires me, and I want to turn it into a tangible sculpture. By creating and sharing my art sculptures, I am able to be part of the beauty of what I love and admire. My intention is to create an artistic experience that will inspire an emotion, recall a memory, ask a question, cause a smile, start a conversation, or replicate a sensation.  I love using my imagination, and I hope to inspire others to use theirs as well.

How long have you been working in metals and what brought you into this field?

I’ve been working with metals since the age of 21. My career choice of auto collision and restoration is what originally brought me into this field.

What piece of advice would you give to someone just starting out in metals?

Create what you are drawn to, and what inspires you. Go with your own mind. Go into the unknown and explore. Expect to work hard, be patient, be careful and never give up.

What has been the biggest challenge for you as a metal artist and have you overcome it, or how are you working to overcome it?

The physical demands and risks of working with fire and metal is always challenging. It is dangerous. It is hard, very physical labor. It is demanding of my concentration. I have to be alert, and stay in the zone. Sparks are always flying, and grinders are always cutting. 

I think the more I do, the more I understand the precautions that need to be in place. I am always adjusting and growing and learning through my experiences.