Growing up on a ranch in Idaho, Brenda Stredwick says the motto was “If you don’t fix it yourself it doesn’t get fixed” and that was how an 8-year old little girl first got into welding. “I followed dad around all over the place,” she said, “and so finally to keep me from being underfoot he taught me how to weld. It worked out for both of us because dad really hated welding himself.”
Brenda says she was always artistic and enjoyed drawing but it wasn’t until her teenage years that she first turned her welding skills into artwork. “I was 16 and working at a restaurant and to make some extra money I started building and selling horseshoe coat racks.” Her side business took off quickly and soon people were asking her to make all sorts of things and so Iron Maiden Welding was born.
“It was a slow process,” Brenda said “I was doing all the work at home and dragging the welder out into the yard.” She explained that her father started bringing wood home and finally, wall by wall, an actual shop came into fruition.
Brenda has designed and constructed all sorts of projects from yard flowers, signs, failings and memorial pieces and all while being self-taught. “I went to a trade school briefly in Coeur d’Alene but said, “They really couldn’t teach me anything I didn’t know. In fact she said her dad even taught her how to weld by sound with her eyes closed, because “the old helmets were so heavy I couldn’t see through them anyway.” She said some of her favorite projects are when a customer brings her old tools that belonged to their grandfather and asks her to design something out of it. One of her favorite undertakings and the biggest piece she has worked on involved turning a 1940 pick-up truck into a planter. “It didn’t have a motor and it was completely gutted,” Brenda explained. “ So I used a plasma welder to cut designs into it, planted flowers in the hood area and put a bench inside where people can sit and have pictures made.”
After running Iron Maiden Welding for 16 years in Salmon, Idaho, Brenda made the move to Montana and has been in business now for the past 13 years. Her first shop was on Jackrabbit Road but for a year now she has been at the new and larger location at 351 Floss Flats Road in Belgrade. The shop is open Tuesday through Saturday from 9 to 3 and in addition to Brenda’s art pieces, she also has jewelry from different local vendors such as Spot of Gold, Jo Jones Jewelry and Bonepile Bling.
It’s not every day that someone can say they love what they do but Brenda definitely can. “I don’t feel like I’ve ever had a day of work” she said. “I really enjoy it.” And it’s definitely turning into a family tradition. Her 11 year old son Everett Pavlovick began following in his mother’s footsteps few months ago and already has back orders for his art, which is also on display at the shop. Iron Maiden Welding will be hosting a big “Spring into Spring” sale the weekend of April 8-9. For more information you can check out both the Facebook and Instagram page or call (406) 388-4121.