Julie Lake hand fabricates her metal work exclusively from a spring tempered, fine gauge stainless steel. She uses an arc welding process at precise settings to join the metal by melting and fusing it together at the tiny joints. The nature of this stainless steel, along with the welding process, allows Lake to create complex and visually fragile, yet deceptively strong forms with very small diameter wires.
Although the welding of steel is typically regarded as an industrial process, Lake likens her technique to the domestic act of sewing or knitting. By way of welding, she methodically and repetitively stitches together the threads of stainless steel which accumulate into larger forms. Her decision to only create with this very specific material is quite minimalistic, but Lake engages with the material with multidisciplinary intent. Her work spans from large scale art installation, to design-driven functional items, to wearable and decorative pieces rooted in fine craft. This multidisciplinary approach allows the individual pieces to cross-pollinate with and inform each other.
Lake's training as a maker started at a very young age. Her father, Ron Lake, is a machinist who went on to establish a career creating fine folding knives. In his workshop, Lake spent much of her childhood learning to run precision equipment like manual milling machines and watchmaker's lathes. She went on to study art with an emphasis in metal smithing at the Oregon College of Art & Craft and then at the University of Oregon. While in college, Lake also began apprenticing as a bench jeweler. She worked in jewelry studios in Eugene, OR and San Diego, CA where she learned repair, original fabrication and small scale production processes. Then, in the early 2000s, Lake began incorporating industrial welding into her practice. She fabricated large steel decks, staircases and other architectural elements, along with smaller furniture pieces. Over the last twenty years, Lake has pursued a distillation of this extensive skill set, and what has emerged is a formally driven, superbly crafted and visually distinctive body of work.