When it comes to jobs, trades such as carpentry, plumbing, and welding are a very male-dominated, so what is it like for a woman who decides to go into one of these fields? Arrow Lakes News spoke with local welder Kate Tupper to find out.
What got you into welding?
Tupper: In high school, they make you take shop. I actually didn’t like it, I thought it was loud, and noisy, and smelled weird, but then I thought it was pretty cool.
Does it take very long to become a welder?
Tupper: I think you go for eight months to do your C Ticket, and then you have to work for four [years] to get your stamp. I didn’t take that long.
What’s a C Ticket?
Tupper: A C ticket is a C level welding ticket, it’s the first level. There are so many levels, and then there are all these specialized tickets. It’s like any profession. You get the basis, and then you can specialize.
Would you like to go for a higher level?
Tupper: I have my Canadian Welding Bureau (CWB) Stick Ticket, which I did at Water Bridge, so that’s pretty good. I don’t know if I’ll go back, because B Ticket is pressure pipe, and I’m not going pipe lining.
Weling seems to be a very male dominated trade, have you faced much opposition in the proccess to become a welder?
Tupper: Not at all. Everyone is really great, and have always been really great. Most of what I know I’ve learned from my co-workers. I kind of think that’s how trades are, you learn from the people that you work with, so I’ve been really lucky to have most men all through my career who take the time and teach me stuff.
It’s always been great. I’m lucky. You end up with a bunch of brothers.
You’re an artist as well. What kind of artwork do you do?
Tupper: I build everything, that’s my motto. Mostly I show steel sculpture. I have a studio here, and I have a studio at my house as well where I make whatever I want. I sew a lot, because I find that metal fabrication and sewing are very similar as far as layout and patterns and how everything fits together.
I like to work through all my ideas in different ways. I’ve noticed that I’ll sew some outfits that match the colour scheme of the thing I’m making, because I think I’m working through what colours I like. If I look back at my crafts over the last couple of months, they’ll usually just be research for the bigger thing. It’s funny.
What do you normally work on? Is it mainly commissions or other jobs?
Tupper: It’s been a mixed bag. My first welding job was welding 200-300 of the same parts every day. I’ve work as a maintenance welder at Crescent Bay Construction. I’ve worked for Water Bridge and built the ferry with them. I’ve done some maintenance out of my shop too.