Staff photo by alexander simone
Roy Houdyshell has been welding sculptures out of spare machine parts since 2016. The interest goes back to his days as a senior at Marion High School, discovering the passion while attending a vocational technology class in Emporia.
Retiree revels in sculpting passion
Roy Houdyshell knew he needed a way to occupy his time after he retired from Ruf Nek Well Servicing in 2016. Since then, he enjoyed welding sculptures out of old machine parts.
“I’ll look at a piece of junk iron or something, and if I look long enough I figure out what I can make,” he said. “I really enjoy doing it. It’s interesting to me.”
The artistry involved is something Houdyshell sees as an inherent talent in his family, with his wife taking time to introduce color to his work.
“I do the easy part,” he said. “My wife does the painting; she gets the hard part of it.”
He also has the support of their daughter, who is a graphic designer. She has taken an interest in his work and even helped design his logo.
“We kind of all have a little part in our blood, I think,” he said. “She enjoys seeing what I make.”
Welding sculptures is about more than the artistic value, it also is Houdshell’s hobby, like how other people have fishing or golfing.
“As long as I can do it, and enjoy doing it, I’ll be out there,” he said. “I don’t want to sit in my house and stare at the TV.”
He discovered a passion for welding as a high school senior in Marion, during which time he attended a vocational technology program in Emporia.
Hunting grounds to find supplies include garage sales, auctions, and antique shops.
Even in Houdyshell’s position, he sometimes has to hold back from wanting to buy old machine parts he might see in someone’s yard.
“Sometimes that junk is a little too highly priced to buy,” he said.
Houdyshell’s standard is to try making one sculpture a day, and he always makes extra in case his wife or someone else wants a duplicate.
A majority of his work is animals, ranging from snakes to birds and butterflies. Being retired is advantageous because Houdyshell has the luxury of choosing what to make each day.
“Most of the stuff I make, I really enjoy making them,” he said. “I probably do more animals than anything, a lot of birds, whatever pops into my head that day.”