Elaina Roberts has always done artwork on the side, usually painting and drawing as a hobby, but she never pursued her creative outlet in any serious manner until three years ago when she dived into metal work.
Elaina holds two jobs, one as a professional engineer at the consulting firm, KGS Group and the other teaching machine shop at Confederation College. What began as a hobby turned into a passion where Elaina produces enough work for two shows a year, Artisans Northwest at the Valhalla in November, and December Dreams on the CLE grounds. Elaina also fulfills about eight commission requests a month. When asked where she finds the time she holds up her hands, laughs and says, “I don’t know.”
Her commission works include garden decorations, rings around fire pits, boat racks, driveway signage, house numbers, personal signs, tables, and unique and commanding signage pieces, one for a new restaurant in town called Excuria, and for Superior Vapes.
On short notice, not long ago, she was asked to participate in one of the Baggage Building’s art shows. It was well attended and she got her biggest commission to date, an eight foot by six foot scene of the Nor’wester Mountains for a couple who had just purchased a condo on Court Street in the building where Kilroys used to be. She met with the couple after the show and sketched out ideas based on their interests. It took her a week to create the piece, which is made entirely of stainless steel.
Most of Elaina’s work is nature based, inspired by our Northern wilderness, which includes flora and fauna for original pieces where images are taken from her own photographs or sometimes from client’s photographs when she does commission work. She has done the odd abstract to be experimental, but always returns to her root themes.
Living near the border in the Neebing Township and with a fabrication shop in Kakabeka, Elaina has grown up surrounded by natural splendor.
“My father was a welder and I started in the trade as a machinist. We came across a little metal lathe when I was sixteen. My father is a jack-of-all-trades so in the shop we built and fixed things together. We put the lathe together and that’s when I developed an interest.”
Elaina studied mechanical engineering at Confederation College and apprenticed as a machinist during and after her schooling. She then studied at the University of Victoria, which has a highly accredited and unique program in mechatronics, which studies the integration of mechanical and electrical applications for robotics.
After four years in school Elaina was hired by KGS Group where she has spent the last five years working as a mechanical engineer. She works on a regular basis with architects and designs the heating and cooling systems known as HVAC.
“I don’t have a lot of spare time to do my metal art,” she says, and describes how three years ago she bought a plasma cutter, a torch that can cut any type of metal in any kind of shape. “I’ve always liked art and took it in school, but I never thought I could pursue it as a profession. It’s a hobby,” she smiles, knowing that it’s become a bit of a passion.
“I do work with the Thunder Giant Metal Smith Guild,” she states. The Guild started about a year ago by metal working enthusiasts, namely Carol Kajorine, a successful local metal artist.
“I’m just happy to keep developing my skills. I got a set of plate rollers so I’m going to do some freestanding sculptural work…. I don’t like hard edges. I do everything free hand, so there’s no straight lines. And my grinder is my paintbrush. I have four different grinders. All the three-dimensional affects I get are from the grinders.”
The shop in which Elaina works is powered by 100% green energy bio diesel. Her father gets recycled cooking oil from restaurants and burns it to make electricity. “Everything in the shop is powered by it, the plasma cutter, three welders; the stick welder, MIG welder, TIG welder, along with the lathe, milling machine, and various fabrication tools, like grinders, presses, and rollers. It’s a pretty good shop,” she laughs.You can see Elaina Robert’s work on her website www.hamatacreations.com