WARNING: 100 Days of Welding Will Lead to More Days of Welding

I started following Mara Strayer’s 100 Day Challenge on Instagram a couple months ago.  I soon learned she lived within 10 minutes of me, and we’ve become good friends.  Always up for a challenge, we are currently undertaking the daily #CreativeSpringBoard Challenge (ending on the first day of spring), which you can follow on Mara’s Instagram page, as well as on mine: @SparkworkStudio and @WildesArt

Mara’s 100 Day Welding Challenge was very inspiring, so I invited her to be a guest blogger.  Enjoy her story, as well as some of her beautiful creations!


I met Barbara Hengstenberg only very recently on Instagram. She found me somehow and seemed interested in my project at the time, #100DaysOfWelding2. As it works sometimes in social media, we started to form a relationship and discovered we live very close to each other, so, we met for coffee.

Barbara is such a kind, inclusive and positive person…she just makes you smile. She asked me if I would write a guest blog for her site to describe what #100DaysofWelding is and how I decided to do it. I thought it might be helpful to have a little background information first!

So, a brief history is that many years ago I graduated from the University of Kansas with degrees in both Graphic Design and Metalsmithing/Silversmithing. I enjoyed careers in both fields but life went along and my husband and I decided to start a family. We decided that what was best for us was for me to stay home with our girls…and the years went by. In fact, it was when my oldest was 18, I realized that it was now time I find something for myself.

I stay motivated with goals. I have done this my whole adult life. It’s kind of a strange thing but if I have a goal, I will get it done and if I don’t have a goal, I will waste my time. The key for me is to set realistic goals so that I can actually meet them. Then, I feel satisfied and can move on to the next. Some are big and lengthy and some are quick.

So, I decided on a big goal: obtain a welding certificate. I went to a local community college and completed a one year program. It took two semesters while my daughters were in their Senior and Freshman years of High School.

I learned to mig, tig and stick weld, plasma and oxy cut among many other things. I completed this goal and got my certificate in May of 2016. I could have easily been satisfied with my accomplishment and welded just for me and just for fun, but that’s not what I did. I set a few more goals to keep me moving forward. I opened an Etsy shop, got my work into a local shop (Chatham Home in downtown Pittsboro) and got into my first juried show at The Arts Center in Carrboro. I felt that proud sense of accomplishment after meeting each one of these.

I do, however, still have a house and family! And, off course, sometimes too easily, I put off my welding to do the day to day things that seem more important. The meal planning, shopping, laundry, errands and carpools seem endless and still need to get done. Consequently, my current projects tend to get shoved further and further down the list. I needed a way to get and stay motivated EVERY DAY!

One day, while browsing around Instagram, I found a possible solution. An artist had challenged herself to 100 days of creativity. She had created a hashtag: #The100DayProject and asked others to join her. This artist, @elleluna , works mostly with paint, but suggested that each participant creates their own individual hashtag and join the community. It was a lightbulb moment for me, the perfect way to find a little creativity every day. So, I did it and created the hashtag #100DaysOfWelding , which amazingly had not already been used. Some days I would post pictures of a finished piece and other days it would be a work in progress or a sketch. As long as I was working each day, it was forcing me to focus. I met quite a few other 100 day participants along the way and a new community was formed. Many of the followers I gained were fellow 100-dayers. A few would like every single one of my posts and comment with words of support and encouragement and I did this for them as well.

On day 100 of the challenge, there was much celebration. I felt both a sense of relief and accomplishment.

But, something else happened, I saw the final post of one of the artists who had also taken the challenge. Cate of @lets_make_a_ruckas is a needlework artist and posted a small round finished work every day. On the last day of the challenge, she posted a picture of all 100 of her perfect round pieces all together and it blew me away. It was so awesome that she had this plan from the beginning and so was able to finish with a huge impact.

So, of course, I had to do this too.

I planned it out and this 2nd time around with my #100DaysOfWelding it would be #100DaysofWelding2 . Each day, I posted a finished charm. Each different but all 3” round. I planned it so that on the final day, January 1st 2018 symbolizing a New Year and a “Fresh Start”, I would post a picture of all 100 pieces!

Here are a few of the individual posts…































Here is the whole darn thing altogether!








       I met my goal!

During that recent coffee date with Barbara, we planned a new challenge of our own. We decided to work every day towards a finished piece that would be unveiled on the First Day of Spring, April 20th! We are calling it the #CreativeSpringBoard Challenge. I would encourage anyone looking for inspiration to challenge themselves to their own #100dayproject or something similar. Whether you are stuck in a rut or needing to stay focused, it will feel good to be a part of a community and work towards a destination.

Follow on Instagram @SparkworkStudio or Twitter @SparkworkStudio

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