Grant reduces fee for welding, armoring class

By Ashlee Hoos

Apr 26, 2019

ANGOLA — The cost of an artisan armoring and welding class offered at The Enterprise Center through Freedom Academy has been reduced thanks in part to an anonymous grant donor.

The class, which begins May 21, was originally $945 per student with all necessary materials being provided.

The grant and other collaboration has reduced the price to $485 per student, said Anita Shepherd, Freedom Academy’s director of operations and client services.

Jacque Gentile of the Steuben County Community Foundation said the donor family is very particular on what projects they fund, but this one hit every bullet point they look for.

“They were drawn to the artistic side of the project,” she said.

A three-week program with classes on Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 6-9 p.m., the class is targeted at women that want to learn the craft and will be taught by local artist Brian Walker.

“Brian brings the artistic talent,” Shepherd said.

Walker has taught welding classes since 2007.

“Welding classes led to other classes like airbrushing and metals and then grew to businesses contacting me to help their employees pass their welding certifications, that kind of thing,” Walker said.

Shepherd said the equipment will remain at the Enterprise Center once the class is completed.

“We felt the community needed access to this type of equipment,” she said. “The class is a community initiative.”

In the future, Walker said he’d like to see an artists co-op that can have access to the equipment to do pieces on their own time. It’s something he’s heard people in the community request.

The future may also lead to additional classes on the topic and others using the equipment.

The skills learned from the class will be useful for more than just arts and culture. There are industries throughout Steuben County that need welders, both certified and not. The skills also create more opportunities for entrepreneurship.

“Welding is one of the core skill sets that 75% of our industries utilize in-house,” said Steuben County Economic Development Corp. Executive Director Isaac Lee.

Even without welding certifications, numerous people still want to learn the skill.

Walker said there are numerous certifications, should someone want certified, in the welding trade. It’s a number of certifications very few other professions have, he said.

The course will teach the basics of armoring with an emphasis on learning and following techniques to work with light gauge metals. Students will have a basic understanding of the tools needed, shop setup, safety and mold design to enable students to form and shape metal into art and sculptures.

Those with questions or interest in the course can contact Shepherd at 800-200-6499 or by emailing