Angela Buenrostro, Caroline Khoury, Jessica Duong and Kirby Camerino
Participants clad in long-sleeved shirts, pants, gloves, and safety goggles gathered around the welding table where Austin, Texas artist Jack Sanders and owner of Design Build Adventure demonstrated basic metalworking techniques.
The group attended Sander’s inaugural “Yoga and Welding” one-day workshop the first Saturday of this month to try their hand at welding.
The day started with a yoga and meditation session designed to provide a mind-body experience to prepare participants for a day of metalwork. The session followed with a brown-bag lunch and lecture with Sanders where he discussed the safety rules and basics of welding.
“If you were to ask me what a perfect day would be, it would probably be something along the lines of spending two hours in the morning doing yoga and then building stuff the rest of the day,” Sanders said.
Sanders said most of the time he feels rushed in the morning, and the idea of creating a yoga and welding workshop is based off his philosophy of “Practicing Your Practice.”
“How do we exercise the type of practice that we want to have?” Sanders asked. “Well, it just means do it.”
With an enrollment fee of $125 per student and a maximum of ten students, the one-day workshop sold out in a week.
Sanders founded Design Build Adventure in 2005 with the mission of educating and serving in mind. But his interest in design go back to the playground in Kindergarten where he recalls stacking sticks to create little campfire scenes. In high school, Sanders said he took pride in the composition of lines in the lawns he mowed and how straight he could mow the edges.
After graduating from Auburn University, Sanders said his experience of being a student, an intern and later an instructor at Rural Studio, an undergraduate program of the School of Architecture, gave him a unique set of skills and interest.
“It was very clear from the earliest days after I graduated that I was going to have to author or write my own job description,” he said.
The name for Sander’s business came to him when he realized the experiential technique and process he and his team used. The business can be found in Northeast Austin.
“Instead of thinking about each project individually, what I started to think about my whole life is just this one continuous design build adventure,” he said. “I pick something up and learn something from every project and try to take that experience into the next project and it’s all an adventure.”
Adventure coordinator, Katie Ford, who started working with Sanders in 2013 after participating in one of his metalworking camps in Marfa, Texas said she enjoys the community the camps create.
“The sense of community that’s built every time we have a workshop among the people who are participating, it’s really a fun process to see,” Ford said. “They all arrive as more or less strangers and by the end of the experience, they’re friends.”
In addition to building a community, Design Build Adventure gives back. Their Heavy Metal Camp helps benefit the Health Alliance for Austin Musicians. Ford said she’s personally inspired by Sanders who likes to weave charitable causes into the work he does, especially in the education aspect of the business.
“They’re not only a solid design build firm,” Ford said. “They care about education, they care about sharing their passion for the design build process with others, and they care about giving back to the community, I think it’s a fantastic business model.”
After the lunch and learn session at the yoga and welding workshop, the adventure crew asked the participants to design their favorite yoga positions by sketching them out on construction paper or using pipe cleaners. Once students were done, they worked in the shop to create their designs in metal.
“They’ve honed in on a vision and now they just want to make it happen,” Ford said.
When the workshop ended at sundown, the participants gathered to share their metalwork creations over cold beer and street tacos.
Participant Virginia Cobb named her welding design The Spirit of Warrior II, a standing yoga pose that builds strength and stamina. Cobb said she has always admired Sander’s artwork and since she enjoys yoga, she thought she’d give the workshop a try. But with zero welding experience, Cobb said she has “a newfound respect for how difficult it is.”
The Spirit of Warrior II came together with loose metal scraps Cobb found in the back of the shop. Cobb said she tried to put her design in a yoga pose, but it didn’t want to be in a pose.
“It was kind of like the metal just told me what it wanted to be,” she said.
Cobb said the enthusiasm of the crew and the sense of adventure she experiences were her favorite moments of the workshop.
“With their support they help you have the confidence to make something that is meaningful,” she said.
After the show and tell session, adventure crew member and Austin singer-songwriter Dan Dyer entertained the group with his guitar by the campfire.
When it comes to the adventure team, Jack Sanders said most of his team consist of people who started doing something for the business. The Design Build Adventure’s website describes the team as an “evolving group of highly skilled collaborators and creative thinkers” whose services range anywhere from renovation to demolition.
“One thing that really keeps this a design build adventure is that we try not to do the same thing over and over again,” Sanders said. “It’s always a search, it’s always a challenge, but it’s always an adventure, too because we have to figure out how to do it — we have to start from scratch every time.”