Cupa Native American college dropout makes good melting metal underwater until an injury blessed him with the discovery of insatiable creativity. So, did I pique your curiosity with my mention of melting metal underwater? Well, that’s where I honed my skills at laying beads, as an underwater welder in the oilfields of the Gulf of Mexico.
As an adrenaline junkie, I thought melting metal with fire underwater was the biggest rush I could possibly find and I was right. That is, right up until the moment I ruptured a couple of discs in my back working on a tugboat’s propeller in heavy seas.
In the blink of an eye, I went from hotshot commercial diver to pain-ridden cripple. My career was over, but my life was nowhere near it. I was a 28 year old on disability. Nothing could be more crushing to my spirit.
I wallowed in depression until a trip out to New Mexico to visit my sister. We toured the galleries in Santa Fe until one shop changed my life. It was a copper sculpture shop and I was instantly inspired. I bought an Oxygen/Acetylene torch set up and never looked back. There was a time in my life where I thought I would never find the professional gratification of a successful working dive, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. The pure joy I get out of turning a pile of scrap metal into a finished piece of art equals, if not surpasses, the satisfaction I ever got in the Gulf.