Jody Lacher, 23, is a student at Truckee Meadows Community College pursuing her associate’s degree in welding technology. She has turned welding into a lucrative business by turning found metal objects into animals. Some of her pieces are on sale at Gallery Cui-ui, located on First Street in a Century Riverside 12 building storefront. Lacher, a Sparks High School graduate, has lived in Reno all her life. She has a son, Brody, who is 3 years old.
The last time I was in Gallery Cui-ui, I accidentally punted one of your animals. It was on the floor, and I didn’t see it. I’m sorry.
(Laughs.) That’s OK.
Does this happen a lot to your metal animals?
No, not that I know of.
Oh. Does this make me a bad person?
Not according to my standards, no. [The works] are pretty sturdy. I don’t think it hurts them that bad.
How’d you get started doing this?
When I first went to TMCC, I was going to be a lab tech. A program, the Re-Entry Center, was helping me out, paying for my books and stuff. Well, the center lost some of its funding and could only give funding to people pursuing non-traditional fields. They told me a couple of girls were trying welding. I thought about it for a couple of days, and I thought I should try it, too. Then I found out I was really good at it.
But most welders don’t weld metal into animals. How did that happen?
Art’s always been a part of my family. My dad did stained glass, so I had an artsy eye, I guess. It started out when I got a pipe and cut some wings out of some sheet metal, and I made a grasshopper.
An anorexic grasshopper was your first work?
Yes. That’s a really good way to put it. That’s what it looked like.
What happened from there?
I went to my grandmother’s in California. She had collected all sorts of metal shovels and pickaxes, stuff like that. I decided to start welding stuff together. People loved it. They said one of the things I made looked like Duckman. But I didn’t know who Duckman was. I still don’t to this day.
What was Duckman made out of?
His body was a tractor seat. I used two shovels for wings, and a post-hole digger for his head.
How many animals have you built so far?
Maybe 50 or so since Duckman. He was my first big one.
What bigger and greater plans do you have? Maybe a whole metal zoo?
Yeah, that would be cool. I want to continue doing this. Maybe more exotic animals. Birds are so easy to do right now. I don’t have a wide range of animals right now.
The weirdest animal you’ve built?
It would probably have to be Duckman.
Isn’t it unfair to say Duckman is weird when you don’t know who he is?
Well, to me, he’s weird already.