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Woman of Steel: Hailey King

Young Bluffton welder, Hailey King of HK Designs, turns cold steel into works of art.

Story by Amy Coyne Bredeson + Photography by Lloyd Wainscott

Hailey King was always frightened by the torches at her father’s welding shop. She spent a lot of time watching him work over the years but always from afar.

Over the past few years, the 20-year-old Bluffton resident has overcome her fear and embraced the welding process.

King has always been an artist, but she wanted to try her hand at something other than drawing and painting. It was then that she realized she could create art out of raw steel at her father’s shop, Powerking in Hardeeville.

King asked her father to teach her how to weld by using a plasma torch. After some one-on-one training, in January 2017 she began creating hand-cut plasma steel art.

“There’s so much that I can do,” King said. “Anything that I can draw, I can do.”

Since then, King has turned dozens of sheets of steel into gorgeous palm trees, oak trees, flowers, mermaids, sea turtles, crabs, seahorses, fish, herons, alligators and horses.

Once King built up a nice inventory, she decided to set up a booth at the annual Bluffton Village Festival. She had no idea what to expect. Despite the rainy, dismal day, it ended up being quite a success. She set up in front of Al-Harry Furniture Design on Calhoun Street and sold several pieces that day. The owner of Al-Harry said she wanted to sell King’s items in her store.

“My turnout was amazing,” King said. “I was like, ‘OK, I’m going to dive into this and see how far I can go with it.’”

Since then, King’s business, HK Designs, has flourished. Her products are available in several stores in the area: Al-Harry Furniture Design, Bluffton General Store, Grayco Hardware & Home on Hilton Head Island and in Beaufort, Urban Nest, Beaufort River Glass and Gallery 209. Her pieces range from $25 to $400.

In addition to designing steel works of art, King is studying industrial design at the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD). She still enjoys painting and drawing.

King is not sure what she wants to do after college, but she knows she wants to continue to grow as an artist.

“I don’t know what SCAD will lead me to,” she said. “I’m just having fun with this for now.”

Making Art out of Steel

Hailey King of HK Designs turns raw steel into works of art. King uses soapstone to draw her designs on large sheets of steel. Using a plasma torch, she cuts out the designs, then either grinds, torches or paints them. She finishes each piece with an automotive clear coat to prevent rusting. She adds either a welded washer or a flat base to the back of each piece for hanging or standing them upright. King also creates custom pieces and logos. For more information or to order an item, email King at [email protected].