I never expected to be thinking about work last weekend when I was at the East Midlands Flower Show, but when I saw the fantastic creations of Burned by Design and went over to have a closer look. It turned out that the owner, Alex, is a Design and Technology teacher.
Alex was already familiar with us, he uses our electronic project kits
at his school. I asked him if he'd happy to write a guest post for us explaining how he got started, and why he thinks Design and Technology is more relevant than ever. Over to Alex.
The idea for the wood burners came from researching upcycling for an A level project. I saw a picture on the internet of a guy who had upcycled an empty gas bottle into a standard wood burner and I decided to give it a go. At this point I'd done very little metal work and taught my self to weld using a stick welder I bought from Lidl for £30 and a few Youtube videos. Stick welding is quite difficult and it took me ages to get going, it's like trying to light a giant match with a lightning bolt while being blind folded. Despite the difficulty I persisted and managed to set fire to my parents garage a few times as well as myself...
My dad had a few empty gas bottles knocking about in his builders yard and it took me about week to make my first stove, the stove worked well and I even cooked my tea on it. I sat and watched the flames in the belly of the burner when the idea of making a burner in the shape of Darth Vaders head popped into my head. I was hooked and off I went to work on my next stove. I posted on a website called Instructables
and it was a huge success....
It got liked and shared
all over Facebook and I'm now shipping them all over the world. I made a bigger version of the Vader burner called big bad Vader burner on Instructables and entered it into a metal working competition which was sponsored by Lincoln electrical. I ended up winning the grand prize, an all singing and all dancing dual MIG welder and all the safety gear. It's that which I am using now to make all my stuff. Of course I had to teach myself to MIG weld, but that's no so hard compared to ark welding.
My latest bit of kit which I am trying to master is plasma cutting which uses an ark of electricity and high pressured jets of air to cut through steel in quite intricate shapes...its much quicker and less noisy than grinding.
I think what excites me most about Design And Technology is passing on my skills to the students and showing them what is possible. They all love seeing what I make and it's nice to be an inspiration to the students.
Design And Technology is so exiting, everything around us, everything we interact with has had to be designed by someone somewhere. Many of these products have been designed to be functional, others to look cool, so get on board and get designing, the only limitation is your imagination and you can do whatever you put your mind to.
About Alex Dodson:
I am currently a full time technology teacher tasked with inspiring the next generation of designers. Since the dawn of Lego I have always been keen to design and make stuff. In 2014 armed with a £30 welder from Lidl and a few Youtube video's I taught myself to weld, I had found a whole new medium to work in. I posted some of my designs on social media which became an overnight success. Interest and requests for my work came flooding in and in the summer of 2014, I won the grand prize for a metal working competition which was sponsored by Lincoln Electrical in America. I won an all singing and dancing welding machine and all the safety gear. 2 Years on and I am now the director of a small company called 'Burned by Design ltd' who specialise in the design and fabrication of themed outdoor wood burners and fire pits, my Facebook page has over 45000 followers and one of my videos has had over 22 million views. I am about to quit school and go full time with the business so it's exciting times ahead. When I'm not welding or teaching I like to get my kicks by throwing myself down hills and mountains, either snowboarding in the winter or on my bike in the summer.
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