From welding to beading, citizen lives interesting life

From welding to beading, citizen lives interesting life
(Submission) Muscogee (Creek) citizen Holly Johnson is pictured at her job as an iron worker Apprentice in Tennessee. Away from her job she does what she calls metal artwork.

By: Darren DeLaune/Reporter

Projects considered therapy for Johnson

MEIGS COUNTY, Tennessee — “To me, being an artist and working on my projects is therapy,” Muscogee (Creek) citizen Holly Johnson said. “It is soothing for me.”

Johnson has been doing beadwork for the last three years. Her beadwork came from her making her regalia for pow-wows.

“I was working on that [regalia] and it does take money to get these made,” she said. “I couldn’t afford it so I decided to make my own.”

Johnson works for the Ironworkers Local 704 out of Chattanooga, Tennessee as an iron worker apprentice.

IL 704 has done numerous things in the state and surrounding states. They have helped with dams, hydro plants, steam plants and nuclear power plants.

“My job is amazing,” Johnson said. “I have never been given this kind of opportunity and I have my union to thank for that.”

Johnson said they are teaching her to do numerous things around heavy machinery.

“I like to be able to work on structural steel such as a high rise building,” she said.

She joined up without knowing what she was getting into.

“It was pretty intimidating,” Johnson said.

Johnson understands not a lot of women are in this type of work.

“There are not a lot of women in the union that do this job,” she said. “I was at a conference and for both Canada and the U.S. there were only 156 women total that do this job.”

Johnson said she wanted to be a welder and was told to be good at welding she needed to find a profession in working with iron.

“I was at a pow-wow and one of the people that I was talking to told me to join up with the iron workers,” she said.

To go along with her beadwork, she also does metal art, which she makes designs on stainless steel.

One project that she did on stainless steel was designed with the Muscogee (Creek) Nation seal on it.

“I wanted to do something that meant a lot to me,” Johnson said. “It took forever. It is not the best handwriting on there but it is mine and it is my art.”

Like her beadwork, her metal artwork is therapy for her.

“To me it is sacred to create something from your mind and put it in your work,” Johnson said. “Whether it is beadwork or metal artwork, it is very sacred to me creating it.”

She said with this drive to create whether in her work, art or professionally, she feels she leads an interesting life.

Johnson said she is nearly certified as a welder and thanked the union for everything in regards to helping her in the profession.

“I cannot thank them enough,” she said. “They have helped me with everything.”

When she becomes a full apprentice she knows offers are on the table to branch out and see the world through her work.

“I would love to see the country and the world because of my work,” Johnson said.

Johnson belongs to the  Katcv (Tiger) clan.

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  • Carl McDade
    January 15, 2019, 1:11 am

    Holly is my cousin.She is indeed. an extremely gifted and mult- talented person!

    REPLY