“We’ve got a bug!” called raw metal artist Mal Bunyan as she emerged beaming from a pile of metal detritus with an armload of bolts, nuts, screws and springs.

Donning her bright pink welding mask, she was soon creating showers of sparks as she welded a charming dragonfly out of bits of old metal most people would just throw away. Based on a beautiful property just outside Pittsworth, Mal has been creating things for as long as she can remember. “I try every craft I can,” she said. “I grew up on a station and everyone has a go at everything whether you’re male or female.”

With such a versatile background of experimentation, she did not have a second thought about taking up welding nearly two years ago. “My husband refused to do more welding for me,” Mal said with a chuckle. “I was asking for too many things and he just decided it was easier to teach me.”

She learned how to use a mig welder along with grinders, sanders and any other power tool she needed to create her one-of-a-kind metal artwork.

“I can use most power tools now,” she said. “There’s a science to it, but once you’ve got the creative idea, welding it together is actually quite simple.”

Mal understands that welding can be a bit daunting for first timers. “You have to get over your fear of being burnt,” she said. “I catch my hair on fire all the time! It’s like childbirth, I suppose. You know you’re going to get hurt, but you keep doing it.”

Family and friends regularly drop off odd bits of steel farm machinery, wonky pieces of metal, and piles of screws, bolts and chains. She also scavenges local hardware stores and opp shops for pieces she can turn into something wonderful. “I go shopping with old buckets and gloves,” Mal said. “I’m not a retail shopper.”

Her Facebook page is filled with photographs of the delightful creations she has made that now grace the gardens and homes of clients, family and friends throughout southern Queensland.

Her own gardens are a showcase for the charming pigs, bugs, birds and imaginary creatures she has made. Mal tucks them near bushes and under trees, providing a visual surprise for onlookers.

She recently started using a plasma cutter to cut out shapes from sheets of metal. A fairy she made looks right at home amongst a spray of flowers in her garden, a line of guinea fowl appears to be foraging for grubs in her lawn, and a dragonfly she made for a friend looks like it is in mid flight from its perch on a garden fence.

Mal has loved her journey as a welder and an artist, dreaming up ways to transform rusty hinges, bicycle chains and plowshares into unique works of art. “Every day I wake up and have an idea,” Mal said. “It could be anything, and I’m curious to see if I can do it.”

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