Forge Your Own Masterpiece at this Yuma Weld Shop

Shanen Aranmór created a welding school in Yuma to teach young girls a trade they didn’t think possible. Her students have helped beautify the city with metal works of art, and now she’s opening her shop to the public.

Should you find yourself in Yuma, having already enjoyed the destination’s big draws and wondering what to do next, we suggest taking a short stroll. Steps from the central shopping district, you’ll find a repurposed hangar housing a shop with one-of-a-kind souvenirs. The catch? You make them yourself with a little elbow grease and some fire.

For only a few hours of your time — anywhere from one-and-a-half up to eight hours — you’ll get hands-on expert instruction in welding and blacksmithing and walk away with a finished piece. Past projects have ranged from a simple holiday ornament to a custom metal-and-wood coffee table.

“It's a different sense of pride when you make a thing,” says owner and Certified Welding Educator (CWE) Shanen Aranmór. “You may walk in uncertain of your abilities and walk out saying, ‘I am a badass.’”

Forge Your Own Masterpiece at this Yuma Weld Shop
Credit: Geoff Montgomery

The woman behind the welder’s mask

Shanen L. Aranmór is a force — a straight-talking petite woman with short blonde hair streaked with neon pink and blue — who speaks with the confidence of a woman on a mission. In 2005, after a few too many falls on winter ice, she left her home in Iowa for warmer temps.

“I did an Internet search for the sunniest place on Earth, and Yuma popped up,” she recalls. (Being closer to her sister in San Diego didn't hurt either.)

Nowadays, Shanen, also a Certified Welding Inspector (CWI), runs Weld Like a Girl™ — a part trade school, part wellness program she started to give women and young girls a chance to do something they didn’t believe they could. Despite the name and its stated mission, the shop welcomes all who desire to learn a new skill.

Turning a negative into a positive

Historically, telling someone (often boys) they do something ‘like a girl’ was an insult. But not in this shop. “Here, it's like, ‘Yeah, I weld like a girl; try to keep up,’” Shanen jokes, acknowledging that while most of her classes are now coed, she’s committed to making it “a safe space for women and girls.”

More recently, she’s begun teaching groups of high school students — some with learning disabilities or prior convictions — and giving them the chance to “build things larger than themselves.”

Students have worked on projects, many commissioned by the city, such as metal traffic signs and large-scale art installations, and it’s been a win-win for both. The students have gained valuable trade skills and built self-esteem, and Yuma has gained art that adds to the cultural uniqueness of the place.

Says Shanen, “Kids will drive by [these projects], and they will always remember that was a part of them.”

Forge Your Own Masterpiece at this Yuma Weld Shop
Credit: Geoff Montgomery

Weld like a girl for fun

After years of teaching welding and blacksmithing skills to students, Shanen opened Weld Like a Girl to the public. She’s hosted birthday parties for children and adults, employee get-togethers, even a divorce party. All ages and abilities are welcome, with gear as small as a welding jacket in size 4T and welding tables low enough for wheelchairs.

“I've taught as old as 5 and as young as 88,” Shanen jokes. Classes are available several times a week, multiple times a day. Check Weld Like a Girl's Events page for current courses such as bells, wall decor and holiday ornaments (seasonal).

Shanen’s Top 5 Things to Do in Yuma

  1. Yuma Territorial Prison “is one of my favorite museums.” With frequently changing exhibits, “they do a really good job of making things feel new every time you visit.”
  2. Prison Hill Brewery’s owner Chris Wheeler’s great-grandfather was a “customer” of Yuma Territorial Prison, and his father was a police officer, adding to the lore of this brewpub. (Shanen and her students also fabricated some of the metalwork inside.)
  3. Hit the outdoors. With so many sunny days, Yuma is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. Among Shanen’s favorite activities are kayaking on the Colorado River (“Put in on the confluence with the Colorado and Gila meet.”), rock climbing, hiking and geocaching.
  4. Lutes Casino. There’s so much to look at inside this Yuma landmark. If nothing else, Shanen says definitely have lunch.
  5. Shop downtown. Main Street Yuma, technically 4th Avenue, has several shops selling “cool handmade things” — perfect for souvenir hunting.



Outdoor excursions, authentic cuisine, and unique experiences await you in Yuma.

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About the Author

Tiana Velez

Arizona native Tiana Velez grew up in Tucson and spent several years in Phoenix as the digital marketing manager for the Arizona Office of Tourism. She's a former reporter and lifelong traveler, and she often can be found wandering the aisles of a bookstore, antique mall or art museum wherever she lands. Find her on Instagram at @the.wanderingmex where she posts pics of her travels and things that make her smile.


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