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Betty Ballew (IG: @bad_betty_designs)

Welcome to this week's #weldershowcase - we had the opportunity to sit down with Betty from @bad_betty_designs and talk a little shop.
If you would like to be featured in our weekly showcase (100% FREE) please send us an email to to get you scheduled in an upcoming week. These showcases are intended to highlight your skill, your business, and your tips and tricks.  Most of all it's to have a little fun! Enjoy and Grind On!


This week's #WELDERSHOWCASE is...

Name: Betty Ballew
Business Name: 
Bad Betty Designs
Country/State Location: 
USA/ North Carolina
Socials: IG: @bad_betty_designs
Website/YouTube links: YouTube  |  Etsy  |  Linked In
Your Specialties: 
Metal Art Sculpture
Tell us about yourself - what inspired you to get into your trade (backstory)? And how long?
I grew up in a small town on a farm. I was the son my Dad never had. I would help him fix the tractors, mend fences, basically anything to help out. He was a welding instructor at the local high school. I never had the chance to learn from him as I never had the time. Fast forward and I had a variety of jobs like being a comic book illustrator, had a business illustrating homes in pen and ink, worked in television as Art Director for NBC News and UPN and advertising. My Dad fell ill and needed help around the farm. I got him to give me some basic instructions with a Hobart Mig welder, and the rest is history. I was hooked on creating metal art. My first sculpture I welded was a life size 7ft tall horse which still stands today in the field overlooking the pastures. That was in 2012. Most recently I was interviewed to be on a new TV show on the History Channel with Tim Allen called "Assembly Required".
What keeps you motivated throughout the day?
Wanting to get better at my craft and learn something new each day keeps me motivated. This has now become a full time job for me and thus that also keeps me motivated to not only meet my clients expectations but to exceed them.
What is your favorite shop tool and why?
That's a tough one. It would be between my grinders or my Plasma cutters. With The grinders and the right flap discs, I can create the most beautiful effects in metal. Swirls of reflective light to show motion and energy. I love the look of raw metal and almost never paint them unless with a translucent pigment or clear coat. On the other hand, The plasma cutter makes me feel like I have a magic wand and that I am Merlin the Magician!
What's your favorite piece that you've worked on?
I guess it would be "Maximus", the horse sculpture made of old rusty metal parts as he was the first piece I ever sculpted! Was so gratifying to see it finished. So many times I started to abandon the project for fear that I'd never finish. Using flap discs to grid off the rust is imperative for a good weld.
If you could have any job as it relates to question 1 what would it be and what would you do with that?
I would LOVE to become THE premiere sculptor for corporations to showcase their products for them at their main headquarters or showrooms. A showpiece, if you will, of their product but seen in a different sculptural way. Working with the corporation to define the meaning and essence of their brand. All types of companies who manufacture metal items like Snap-on, Caterpillar, Miller, Hobart, Hypertherm, Benchmark Abrasives lol wink! Taking their product and making a transformative statement piece from it which inspires its onlookers to see the vision of the company in a different way.
What BA product is your favorite and why?
I just started using the flap discs 60 and 80 grit Zirconium and have to say I'm quite impressed. Was so happy to get to test the products out and they definitely didn't disappoint! The quality is top notch.. why pick only one! Very durability and if I need to hog off a lot of metal, that 60 does the job in no time! I use the flap discs almost like a paintbrush to add texture to my pieces, different grits, different effects.
What BA product surprised you in terms of quality - what about it set it apart from the competition?
I notice that they are much fatter and have many more layers of sanding layers. Will Take a lot longer to wear out therefore gonna be much more cost effective. I also felt that the construction was far superior to a lot I've used in the past. I'm not afraid of having it disassemble on me in mid use. ( this has happened to me before with lesser brands!)
What tips and tricks do you have for us that might be different or eye opening for others to try with BA product (insert product)?
Once the disc is almost completely depleted, I can still eek out another use which is to use the 120 to "Woodburn" swirls and lines into wood to make it look like an exotic wood. The sap gums up in the disc a little which causes the burn effect when turning at a high speed. Turns out really nice. I also use the last bit to carve cow bone into teeth for my skull sculptures! Also instead of using an orbital sander, try the 120 grit to create a distressed wood cut texture on wood surface.
If there was one person you could collaborate with - who would it be and why?
Wow.. that's a tough one. So many talented guys and gals out there. Would probably be Jessie James.
  Do you have any advice for the next generation that you wish you had when you first started?
Take a business class! Haha and find good mentors to learn the tricks from!
What are your future plans for your shop?
I want to move to a larger location into my barn. Make a fun creative space that others can come and check out my work and even perhaps help other gals get interested in picking up the torch.
Thanks for sitting with us and sharing your story with the community - is there anything you'd like to add?
I'd like to say that it's rare these days to have a company such as yourself to genuinely care about its customers and want to build them up as a part of your team! Building trust and confidence in your product says a lot about the values of your company! Keep it up! Job well done!



A Note From Leo
Thanks for sharing your story with us, Betty! Your tips & tricks on burning the wood with a used up disc was very cool to read and hopefully it helps others get more creative with their woodwork.. also, thank you for the kind words, we truly appreciate it.






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