Alex Féthière‘s metalworking studio operates more sustainably than traditional metal artist studios. Castings are poured from reclaimed scrap aluminum in a homemade blast furnace powered entirely by discarded motor or cooking oil. The fires of the furnace are kindled from chopped shipping palettes. Once polished, an aluminum piece is anodized, a process whereby an electrical current is run through it while it is immersed in a mildly acidic bath. This causes it to grow a porous layer of synthetic sapphire that absorbs dye. No toxic paints are used; instead Féthière applies eco-friendly sealants and epoxies from Earth Safe Finishes.
When steel is reclaimed, rust removal is done with an electrolytic process in a solution of sodium carbonate and water. The resultant rust soup is greywater safe enough to water the lawn. Most welding is done using TIG, an electrical process that produces little to no smoke, very focused heat with little waste, and uses only innocuous argon as a shielding gas. Most cutting is done with a plasma cutter, which uses an ionized quasi-gas to slice quickly and neatly through most alloys, fed only by a wall outlet and an air compressor. Pieces like Murdochtopus often use almost no virgin materials—in this case, only the rivets securing its structure were manufactured. In addition to his sculptures, Féthière makes furniture, jewelry, and home decor.