Atelier La Coulée- Art and Metal In Fusion

Woman of Steel participant welding a T joint in the horizontal position using the Shielded Metal Arc welding process.

#WomenofSteeel Highlights with Maude Lauzière Dumas and Nina Dubois

Pointe-Saint-Charles, one of Montreal’s oldest neighborhoods, is the site for Building 7. Formerly sheltered, with the opening of the Lachine Canal, several industries were offered an advantage for transport which allowed for the development and growth of many Irish and French speaking employers in the manufacturing sector. Unfortunately when the canal closed down in 1970, many people were left unemployed due to the shutdowns of several industries.


With the reopening of the Lachine Canal, the district is undergoing construction and the older buildings in the city are being restored. However, this time around, the citizens of Point Saint-Charles are involved in the rebuilding of their city. In the past, many citizens and activists have converged together to reclaim an old building in the area to create a space that served the needs of its inhabitants. It is on this basis that Building 7 opened its doors last spring, with various collaborative workshops grouped together under its roof including photography, ceramics, wood, mechanics plus the microbrewery Les Sans-Taverne, and the self-managed grocery store, The Detour. It is in this same spirit that a group of graduates from Concordia University in Fine Arts, trained in bronze and aluminum techniques with lost wax, joined Building 7 to open a cooperative workshop for metal practicing foundry and welding. For two years, the team worked on setting up the workshop while running a crowdfunding and donation campaign. They found substantial financial support particularly with the City of Montreal, the COOP Network, PME-MTL, SODEC amongst many more. These efforts were rewarded this Spring with the opening of the first collective foundry in Montreal. This dynamic team is composed of welding professionals and experienced artists who have set up this collective workshop offering several possible courses and support for clients that require work and a creative space from new students wanting to practice their skills to seasoned professionals. La Coulée workshop became an optimized 2000 sq. ft. space with posts for MIG, TIG, stick, and oxyacetylene welding processes with specialized equipment and tools for working with metal. It is on an egalitarian basis and without discrimination that the workshop has opened its doors to several groups including, women, young learners, and many different marginalized communities to develop their work potential through learning. Introductory and advanced courses are also offered in foundry and welding (TIG and MIG) in addition to thematic workshops such as sculpture, and furniture-building. Safety standards are communicated at the beginning of each workshop and the team has been trained by Ambulance St.-Jean in first aid. We hope that the La Coulée workshop with its creative energy will encourage people to discover the field of metal and its many possibilities.


As an example of solidarity, the Atelier La Coulée promotes values of social justice, autonomy, inclusion, and education. La Coulée aims to create and support organizational practices that are democratic, accessible and open to making the workshop a great place to work together while making tools, practicing theory and metal work.


Collective 7 is an organization born in 2009 at Pointe-Saint-Charles which brings together citizens, cultural organizations, community, and libertarians from the social economy. Following a mass mobilization that lasted more than a decade, Real Capuano recaptured Building 7 on the old CN Grounds, south of Pointe, to make a project of social, cultural, economic, political, and economic transformation.



The Material

Q What are the most interesting aspects of your career?

Encountering raw materials on my visit to a silver mine in Bolivia, and working with bronze at the Bronze Workshop in Inverness, Québec allowed me to see the rigid material transform itself through my artistic inspiration. Whether soldering, pounding metal, melting it or giving it a color, the final work will become my imprint and will survive me for several decades.

Q What was your journey as a metal sculptor?

My artistic career led me to the field of jewelry. After completing my degree in this specialization, I wanted to go further in the search for different materials amalgamated with metal. Through these articulated forms that follow the movements of the body and the exploration of matter, I made the link between jewelry and sculpture. My participation in large-scale sculpture projects with groups of Montreal artists inspired me to continue my studies towards a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Concordia University specializing in sculpture. Since then, combining my studies, sculptures and the development of my techniques, I pursue my interest in contemporary jewelry. I like the idea of sharing my love and my experience of metal with artists who want to evolve this area. The team at Atelier la Coulée helps the simple novice to the most experienced in welding and shares their knowledge.

Q What is your favourite metal sculptureand why?

A The combination of jewelry and the evolution of my work in sculpture led me to some of my biggest accomplishments including my sculpture “Being De-constructed.” This was awarded the François Houde Prize by the City of Montreal and the Council of Crafts of Québec in 2017. The articulated sculpture gives meaning to my values of fairness and effusion towards humankind.

Q How do you envision your career and your future?

A To finish my studies to obtain my diploma is one of my priorities. Participating in multiple projects to broaden my creative scope and metalworking techniques, as well as joining the artist residency. Finally, finding the harmony between metal, the creation, and the human being.



The Space

Q What are the most interesting aspects of your career?

My interest began with a camera and a passion for architectural photography. The space, the light, the metal structures that quickly become inspirational elements make me gravitate towards architecture and metal structures. Also, the exploration of environmental themes and especially the way that we build our projects to reflect nature by design is very appealing to me.

Q What was your journey as a metal sculptor?

My Bachelor’s Degree from Concordia University where I had my first experience in welding, helped me realize that projects creating spaces would be both shelters and spaces for reflection. My participation in aninter-university exchange program in New Mexico for the community project “Morning Glory” allowed me to further develop my design technique through the use of different materials to create an interaction with light defining space between the structure and its environment. My exploration in the world of ecoconstruction will continue with an ecological dwelling called the “Culture Digest,” an alternative construction piece designed for an exhibition at the University of Mexico. Through this experience, I began to see how I could integrate my concerns for the environment through an experimental approach.

Q What is your favourite metal sculpture and why?

A “Hive” is a tribute to the US Pavilion at Expo 67 in Montreal. It is inspired by alveolus shapes from beehives and its geometric principles. Its modular structure of metal defies the techniques of welding with connectors that assemble the structure to which the jigging technique applies. Finally, the panels from recycled wood pallets respect the environmental aspect.

Q How do you envision your career and your future?

My work in steel and welding led me to get involved with the La Coulee workshop. It allowed me to share 15 years of experience with a community rich in talent and knowledge. Participation in community projects, arts, architectural integration programs (1% total budget of the building) are my aspirations for the future.