Yvonne Bobo offers welding classes

By Leslie Thompson

Yvonne Bobo has been creating works of art in her Cooper-Young studio at Young and Blythe for the past decade, and though her name may not be known to every household in Memphis, most will at least recognize her work. Her metal sculptures and art installations appear in several local public spaces all over the city, including Peabody Park, Lichterman Nature Center, and Cancer Survivors Park.

[singlepic id=135 w=400 h=300 mode=web20 float=left]When Bobo first wanted to work with metal by learning how to weld, she began by taking a class at Southwest Tennessee Community College. “If you go to those classes, most of those people are welders trying to get certified. Those people aren’t exactly learning to weld. I didn’t realize how out of my element I was,” said Bobo while standing in the middle of her studio, surrounded by a myriad of projects and scraps of metal. At Southwest, she found herself wondering, “‘OK, how come everyone else already knows how to weld? And then you realize they’ve all been welding for years and years, and now they’re just trying to get better pay, so they (go to Southwest to) get certified.”

Discouraged by the lack of real hands-on learning at the local community college, Bobo then began to seek help from individuals, skillful welders in the city. “My friend Tyler French taught me to MIG (metal inert gas) weld. He was always like, ‘OK, you do it like this,’ and then he was gone,” she said. Left to fend for herself, she worked and got better at using the MIG welder until it broke. “I always say I learned to TIG (tungsten inert gas) weld over the phone…My MIG welder went out, and then all I had was a TIG welder, so if I had any problems, I’d call the guy I knew who had the TIG welder.”

Recently, Catherine Snyder of Vollintine-Evergreen was in Cooper-Young visiting her son. Snyder, who already creates art with glass and enamel, had been interested in incorporating metal into her work. So while she was in the neighborhood, she decided to approach Bobo about welding lessons at her Young Avenue studio. Bobo agreed, and then she began giving lessons to others, too.

“The best way to learn is to go find somebody who’s good at it and say (to them), ‘Will you teach me?’” said Snyder. “That’s how I learned everything,” chimed in Bobo.

Snyder, a Memphis City Schools teacher, went on to say, “I’m just trying to both make something pretty and learn things that I can take back in the classroom. I’m a science teacher. Not only do you learn materials science (by taking welding classes), but (Bobo) is also into physics. We were sitting here yesterday trying to figure out how to make her sign spin.” Bobo is currently working on a new sign for her shop, which will be similar to the pieces she has done for Peabody Park. It will spin by wind power.

“(Bobo’s welding class) is ideal for anybody who really wants to learn how to weld and they don’t want to just weld average everyday stuff,” said Snyder, who is currently learning the basics. “I want to make the metal for tabletops. That’s originally what I came in to try to learn, but we’re building up to make that because I want to build the bottoms, too…The first thing I made was a tray.”

Welding classes are available to both novice and experienced welders at Yvonne Bobo Studio, and Bobo will assist and instruct on projects ranging from small, decorative art pieces to larger functional pieces, such as stair rails. The cost for the initial first session is $50 for individuals and $75 for couples. Further costs may vary depending on the amount of studio time and materials a project will require. For more information on welding classes, call or stop by the studio. Guests are always welcome.

Yvonne Bobo Studio
2164 Young Ave, 901-650-1814


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  1. I FORGOT to mention that she’s responsible for our beautiful Cooper-Young ginkgo leaf bike racks, too. Doh!

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  2. Great article, Leslie. The movie is great, too. Have you sent it to Yvonne?

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    • Thank you, Mark! :) I haven’t sent this to Yvonne yet, but I should and will!

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