Let the Brown Dog Weld
Welder and metal artist Josh Welton of Michigan-based Brown Dog Welding highlights one-off creations and takes on new larger-scale venture "Panic Attack"
Welton uses his Miller Dynasty 200 DX TIG welder to create one-off artistic pieces including motorcycles, hot rods, robots and metal animal sculptures.
About Brown Dog Welding
Josh Welton is a welder by trade. He struck his first arc in November 2002, when he served as a millwright apprentice for Chrysler.
“I never grew up thinking I was going to be a welder,” says Welton. “I hired in as a millwright, went through the training, struck an arc and was like ‘This is what I want to do. I want to weld.’”
He practiced and eventually began putting stuff together. He’d post pictures of work, and friends and family began to take an interest in — and want to purchase — his work. Welton quickly realized he could make some money off of his craft, doing what he loves to do.
Fast forward 10-plus years, he now works in the prototype shop at General Dynamics Land Systems, where they create military defense prototype vehicles and parts including Strykers and Abrams. Welton then returns home each night and greets wife Darla before heading to his one-man welding and fabrication shop, located just north of Detroit.
Brown Dog Welding is a product of his passion for metal art. The name of the business combines two of his loves: welding and his dog, Woodson. It’s in these 750 square feet that his one-of-a-kind visions come to life.
“I like that I’m creating something semi-permanent. It’s metal. It’s my own. I’m not taking a blueprint from somebody else and making something,” says Welton. “Everything I make is from my mind. I don’t want to do the same thing over and over again. I want everything to be different and keep challenging myself and doing new things.”
Late into the evenings, Welton is under the hood and in the zone, relying on his Dynasty 200 DX TIG welder.
Energy drinks and gummy bears provide sustenance, and tunes — everything from Tool and Daft Punk to Romantic piano composer Frederic Chopin — play in the background as motorcycles, hot rods, robots and metal animal sculptures begin to take shape. See gallery.
“Listening to music while welding really affects my mood and keeps my mind right. I used to always listen to the hard stuff and found myself throwing my tools around a lot,” jokes Welton.
Mixing in “Spaghetti Western” soundtracks and epic ballads by Ennio Morricone has inspired him and provided a sense of calm.
“I might be making something as simple as a keychain but could feel 10-feet-tall, bulletproof and think I could do anything when listening to some of these ridiculous soundtracks.”
Welton sells his one-off pieces via his BDW Etsy Store. At least 10 percent of all BDW profits are split between Home Fur-Ever, the no-kill shelter where he and Darla adopted Woodson, and Lifebuilders, a nonprofit organization in Detroit dedicated to rebuilding communities and empowering area youth.
Interested in trying a metal art how-to project of your own? Watch this video to see how he creates a Sucker Punch belt buckle.
Using the Miller Multimatic 200, Welton TIG brazed the gas tank using silcon bronze to join the copper and stainless steel materials.
Panic Attack: BDW and Ice Nine Group partner on motorcycle build
While Welton usually works on a smaller scale, he and friend Keith Strong, owner of Ice Nine Group, have partnered up on a motorcycle build that will incorporate Welton’s artistic components and fabrication skills and Strong’s knowledge of and experience in the motorcycle and automotive industry.
Strong’s shop builds prototypes and show cars for the auto industry and also restores classic vehicles and builds customs such as pro touring cars for clientele around the world. While they are skilled in body work and known for their unique paint jobs, Strong was looking to do something different and revisit his roots and love for motorcycles.
“We want to do something really edgy, and very raw and mechanical — no paint at all,” says Strong. “All the color and the purpose of this bike will be made through welding and will be almost like a hybrid hot rod — not specific to any one genre of motorcycles. This will be an eclectic collection of everything we wanted to put into one piece.”
Welton hopes to bring a fresh perspective to the build while highlighting his artistic approach throughout the bike. He typically only clear-coats his work and leaves it raw; allowing the metal, heat and different textures from the fillers or the galvanized, stainless or aluminum materials to give the work its unique character, as opposed to painting it.
“I like to say my work is a bunch of flaws perfectly balanced,” says Welton. “I don’t do a lot of measuring or straight lines. It’s gotta look right — If it looks right, it is right. It’s just gotta look cool and balanced.”
The ’67 Triumph will be transformed into what they call “Panic Attack.”
Welton deals with anxiety issues, admitting that a trip to a new grocery store can make him tense up. And while he has created 188 smaller motorcycle sculptures in his shop, Welton has never once built or ridden a bike. This project is his way of challenging his anxieties head-on.
“Hopefully, I can punch it (his anxiety) in the face and not get beat up too bad,” says Welton. “I’ve never built a bike before or ridden a bike before and I’m doing it and putting it out there for everyone to see. Panic Attack just seemed like a natural fit.”
Once complete, the bike will be auctioned off and monies raised will go to support the local no-kill shelter.
“That’s really the plan, is to have a little bit of fun working on some things together,” says Strong. “We’ll take the fruits of our labor and donate it back to a charity and do some cool stuff with it.”
Then, watch as progress comes together on the bike in these below how-to videos:
Where to find Welton
To continue watching the build progress and see what other new creations he is working on, tune into his active social media channels via Twitter (@BrownDogWelding), and Facebook (facebook.com/BrownDogWelding) or his website BrownDogWelding.com.
On these platforms, Welton shares and also receives tips and advice with other welders and posts regular images from his shop. He credits social media to the mass amount of knowledge and encouragement that is readily available to skilled and novice welders.
From military defense work to metal art, a motorcycle, an active website and online store, this guy is unstoppable — welding and working sometimes more than 100+ hours a week.
It’s safe to say the world will see more great things from Welton. When asked where he’d be in five years, Welton had this to say …
“I want to weld on Mars. I don’t know how realistic that is but how awesome would that be … to be the first welder on Mars?”
Miller wishes Welton, Darla and dog Woodson the best of luck in making this happen and hopes the Dynasty is along for the ride.
Note: Elon Musk, founder of Space Exploration Technologies, develops and manufactures space launch vehicles, and it is his goal to eventually enable human exploration and settlement of Mars. Welton was referring to becoming a part of this team/project, which would build the infrastructure for this space community.