A retired registered nurse, Behlau grew up on small farms, and has been involved with animals all her life. As a young adult she moved to Dayton and raised four children on a 100-acre farm on the North Touchet, and after the kids grew and flew, went back to school for her RN degree.
After 27 years of working in the medical field, she retired and turned to the welder, torch, and blacksmith forge. She now also trolls through salvage yards, junk piles, yard sales, and farms looking for metal materials to transform into her art.
“My father was a blacksmith and farrier,” Behlau explains. “My brothers continued the tradition as well as my nephew.
“Since there was such a strong family tradition of blacksmithing, I was drawn to metal work utilizing welder, torch, and forge.”
There is a learning curve, she says. In the three years she has been honing her skills with her tools, she has encountered challenges along the way.
“Working with red hot metal can be tricky and painful at times if you are not careful,” Behlau says. “The upside of working with metal is that, unlike with wood, if you cut it wrong or put it together wrong, it is very forgiving.
“It can be cut apart and rewelded until it looks how you want it. It just takes patience and persistence . . . which I have a lot of.”