Maybe living along the Crooked River explains it. Or it might be in his DNA. Whatever sparked his creative talents, nobody denies that 17-year-old Max Throgmorton has a flair for creating aquatic creatures from of discarded implements.

Through the eye of this budding welder-artisan, part of a rake becomes a whale’s tail; pliers are tuned into lobster claws.
“I think it would make a nice career someday,” the Naples teenager said.

Throgmorton has made a salmon, a lobster and a whale during his stint at the Metal Arts program at Lake Region Vocational Technical Center at Lake Region High School. Someone offered him $100 for his lobster creation (He refused; it was his first piece). But the whale brought twice that when it was raffled off recently. Harvest Hills Animal Shelter in Fryeburg benefited from $200 thanks to interest in Throgmorton’s craft.

“I bought five tickets because I really wanted the whale,” said Sarah Peck, a business computer teacher at Lake Region. “I have a whole wall at home full of paintings of wooden whaling ships; I wanted to win.”

Throgmorton is going on three years at Lake Region’s Manual Arts program and is receiving college-level credits through the school’s partnership with Southern Maine Community College.

Early on, Throgmorton learned the basics of welding from course instructors. With the fundamentals under his belt, he’s now developing his creative side.

“All of this is MIG welding,” Throgmorton said on the technique he used to construct the whale. He didn’t follow any particular pattern.
“I just played around with the metal; I took two pieces of pipe and welded one inside the other for the eye.”

His work has got the attention of Bruce Hilton, Manual Arts instructor for the past 13 years at the Lake Region center. “It’s a pleasure to find a student who really takes to something,” Hilton said. “I’ve had very few that have developed superior skills. I’d love to see Max open up his own shop someday and make things – people would buy them.”

That may very well happen. Upon graduating this spring, Throgmorton said he’d like to enroll in a welding apprenticeship, either at Bath Iron Works or Cianbro Corp. But metalwork also runs in his family. His father is a mechanic and introduced Max to welding when Max visited his dad at work one day.

“He told me I was good at it and that I should pursue it,” Throgmorton said.

Throgmorton will enter some of his work in an upcoming student art show at the tech center the last week of May. Hilton said the arts are often an area of success for those students who struggle in traditional academic subjects. “This is where they fit,” Hilton said. “To have a place where they’re comfortable and feel like they’re getting an education is really important.”


Don Perkins is a freelance writer who lives in Raymond. He can be reached at: [email protected]