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Joe Marandino (@metal_genius_joe)


Welcome to this week's #benchmarkspotlight (formerly the #weldershowcase) - we had the opportunity to sit down with Joe from @metal_genius_joe and talk a little shop.
If you would like to be featured in our weekly spotlight (100% FREE) and have a chance at winning one of our Grinder Hoods please send us an email to to get you scheduled in an upcoming week. These spotlights 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!


Name:  Joe Marandino
Business Name:  Metal Genius Joe
Location: Tolland CT. 
Socials: IG: @metal_genius_joe 
Specialties: I am a metal sculptor artist. My medium is steel.
 Tell us about yourself - what inspired you to get into your trade? And how long?
I never set out to be an artist. Back in 2006 I started three semesters of the adult welding and fabrication classes at the Cheney Technical High School trade school to learn welding with the intention of going into the Iron Workers to get a change of career as I've done Landscaping for over two decades as well as other odds and ends for work. I primarily worked on learning and getting certified in stick welding. After I completed three semesters and was about to apply for a job in the Ironworkers, I was struck with a life altering autoimmune disease, Crohn's Disease, that was so debilitating that I was literally unable to even leave my house for almost 3 years. During that time, I started to go out in my garage and make things to clear my mind and I tried to sell a few things to bring in some income and that started my career into metal sculpture. Out of something so bad in life came much beauty. My skills came from trial and error and practice. I never took any art classes. You get better by hands on experience and constantly trying to improve yourself. My metalwork has really helped me get through very rough and difficult times with my health because it gave me hope and something positive to concentrate on and look forward to. This is especially true when back in 2020 I had and went through three major surgeries that saved my life. Life is good.
 What keeps you motivated throughout the day?
My motivation daily and throughout the day is to keep creating and trying to push myself to better myself all the time. Even though I did get better health wise, I still have a few health issues to deal with in life and building metal sculpture in my shop provides an income. I feel that I've been given a gift in life and always respect that and don't take that for granted and always try to keep working towards bettering myself.
What is your favorite shop tool and why?
I think my favorite tool in my shop is my 2-pound ball pean hammer since I use it so much and I have basic tools in my shop. That, and my 1972 Lincoln 250amp tombstone stick welder that I got off of craigslist like 15 years ago. I love the old stuff because of the quality and this welder is in mint condition and is built like a tank.
  What's your favorite piece that you've worked on?
My two favorite pieces in my career are: Ivan, the 1000-pound tree frog I made like 12 years ago and the 44" goat sculpture, "Pan, the God of Nature." The giant frog was such a huge learning experience, and he is the first of two giant frogs I made. The second one is even bigger.
What BA product is your favorite and why?
My favorite Benchmark Abrasives product so far is the 60 grit 4 1/2" flat flap discs for the clean-up work on the metal. I go through a lot of them, and the quality and price have been the best I've found to use out there on the market. Never mind the fact that Benchmark Abrasives customer service is commendable and always great. 

If there was one person you could collaborate with - who would it be and why?

If I could do a collaboration with any artist, it would be the incredible stained-glass artist from Japan, Safumi Shinogami. I'd love to do a collaboration piece with my metalwork and her stained-glass work combination piece and have it auctioned off in Japan to charity.

What are your future plans for your shop?
My future plans in my career are trying to take the metalworking skills up to the next level, getting more work sold globally and trying to leave a legacy of my work behind after I am gone. We're only here for a short time in life, make the best of it.


A Note From Leo
Thanks for sharing your story with us, Joe! You've gone through some crazy shit with your health that led you down this path and to us - and for that, we are grateful. Welcome to the BA family!
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