Brandon Stieg (IG: @brandonstiegdesigns)

April 24, 2021

Welcome to this week's #weldershowcase - we had the opportunity to sit down with Brandon from @brandonstiegdesigns and talk a little shop.
 
If you would like to be featured in our weekly showcase (100% FREE) please send us an email to leo.benchmarkabrasives@gmail.com 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:  Brandon Stieg

Business Name:  Brandon Stieg Designs and Pacific Circle, Inc.

Country/State Location: Marin County, CA.

Socials: IG: @brandonstiegdesigns @pacificcircledesignbuild

Websites:  www.brandonstieg.com   www.pacific-circle.com

Specialties: Metal Art and Fabrications

Tell us about yourself - what inspired you to get into your trade (backstory)? And how long?
I've been creating and building things since I was a kid. I grew up an only child and spent my time in the backwoods building tree houses or in my dad's garage making something out of whatever was laying around.  He wasn't always happy about it. So, there's never really been any question for me what I would end up doing. Along the way I had a career as a professional snowboarder competing at the X-Games and on the International ISF tours. Even then, I spent all my spare time - when not training - building things, drawing and painting. 

My schooling background is in art and architecture and along with many tears in the trades I started Pacific Circle, Inc. (an architectural design and build company) in 2003. I have continued my metal art throughout my career at Brandon Stieg Designs.

In the early years I worked mostly in wood building decks and doing commission chainsaw carvings for wealthy homeowners in the Lake Tahoe area before moving to the Bay Area. Over the years our scope of work with Pacific Circle, Inc, evolved to incorporate more metal fabrication and I’ve developed a niche creating custom garden sculpture for folks as part of larger installations. As most shops do, mine has grown in capacity over the years and my specialty has developed to involve hand forged, formed and fabricated one of a kind metal sculptures. 
 
  What keeps you motivated throughout the day?
I have no problem with motivation. I go to bed problem solving my fabrications and wake up eager to get into the shop and behind the welding hood. There is really no place I would rather be than in the shop working on a sculpture.  
What is your favorite shop tool and why?
Oh man, so many… I would have to say the most commonly used tool is the mig welder. I have three set up for different applications, all mig however one with .030 wire, one with .035 wire and another set up for mig brazing silicon bronze. Tig welder is also a must. As for sculpture details I use an arsenal of pneumatic grinders, and die grinders with carving bits. 
 
  What's your favorite piece that you've worked on?
It's almost always going to be my most recent piece because I feel like my skills are forever evolving and each piece gets better as a result. I’ll often look back at the piece before and notice the mistakes I've learned from. In this case that would be “Diver Boy” which is the latest piece in my “child” series prefaced around the journey we all take in finding what we're here for. 
If you could have any job as it relates to question 1 what would it be and what would you do with that?
I'm doing it. No complaints here. Creating metal sculptures, at least for now is IT. I plan to grow and continue this work until I'm no longer able for whatever reason. 
 
  What BA product is your favorite and why?
Again, so many.. I'm a huge fan of the cut off wheels @benchmarkabrasives puts out, the carving bits are awesome and the line of flap discs are fantastic. I use A LOT of flap discs in what I do and have been through so many different brands over the years that have disappointed me. It's really nice to have an arsenal of products in a quality brand. I love that Benchmark supports the makers and creators out there. 
What BA product surprised you in terms of quality - what about it set it apart from the competition?
The cut off wheels and the flap discs. Specifically the 4-1/2” premium .040 cut off wheels. They cut mild steel like butter, are nice and thin for the finer work I do and hold up great. I'd say I use the 60 grit flap discs the most and both the flat version and the tapered come in super handy and go the distance. Lastly, the round over 2” flap discs are excellent for carving contours. 
 
  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)?
One recent trick I've learned is to extend the life of your flap disc by running the back edge of your flap disk on concrete (from the back side) to wear it down and expose more of the abrasive face. Use extreme caution and a face shield when doing this. (BA Note: We've thought about this, which is why we have Trimmable Flap Discs exactly for this reason. You can view a demo on our IGTV on how to trim these flap discs safely.  We don't recommend doing this to our normal flap discs as they could get damaged and become a hazard to your safety).
If there was one person you could collaborate with - who would it be and why?
Karl Saar @kustomsteel . Many artists or fabricators have either the vision or the skill set. The best have both. Karl Saar is an extreme talent in this regard and has led the way in what's possible in the realm of hand built (i.e. not cast) metal sculptures. 
 
  Do you have any advice for the next generation that you wish you had when you first started?
I don't think my advice would be anything new but it would have to be to ACT. These days there is so much opportunity to procrastinate that I think it can become a handicap for the screen generations. I certainly feel it myself but to have a plan and a time to ACT, just go to work and do what you do for X amount of hours every day and you will accomplish great things. Make the time to engage in that thing that calls you. 
What are your future plans for your shop?
I'm always learning. I feel very young in the metal world and I have more ideas than I do skills so my plan is to keep honing those skills, learn something new every day so that each piece is better than the last. As for the shop itself, that is an ever evolving beast. There is always that next tool that does something your others don't, always room to improve your ability and efficiency. My shop is always evolving so I doubt that will ever change. 
 
 
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 thank you for the opportunity to share my story and my creations as well as a Thank You to Benchmark Abrasives for supporting creators and fabricators like myself. 

 

A Note From Leo
Thanks for sharing your story with us, Brandon! I love the "child series" that you've done. The water ripples on Diver Boy look amazing.. I think my favorite is the wall piece of the tentacle holding the teddy bear tho - would look perfect in my octopus themed bathroom! Cheers! ^_^ 



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