If your Valentine's Day involves the purchase of a dozen roses, odds are those roses will be looking less than fresh by the weekend.
However, if you bought a rose from the Central Lakes College Welding Club, it'll look just as fresh as the day you bought it for months to come, maybe even until next Valentine's Day.
The Welding Club has been fabricating steel roses for Valentine's Day for four years, instructor Paul Jillson said. Mitch Treichler, a student at the time, started making them. Now, Treichler returns each year to show the students how to make the roses.
The petals start as three separate steel discs, which students weld one at a time to the stem. Once a disc is welded to the rod, they bend it upward, to create the look of petals. The club sells the roses for $20 a piece, with the proceeds going toward welding competition expenses.
"The students really look forward to competing in those competitions," Jillson said. "It's actually quite expensive to go to."
All the roses are just a little bit different, welding student John Raboin said, because each student makes the roses a little bit differently. Students can work together to discover different ways to put their own touches on the roses, he said.
Welding student Matt Palmer made his first rose, then walked around the welding shop to see the process his fellow students were using. When he saw something he liked, he used it when he was making the rest of his roses.
The petals are made of steel, while the stems are made from welding filler rods. Students paint the petals using a few different colors, though red is the most popular. It takes about an hour and a half to make each rose, Jillson said.
Braiding the stems was difficult, Raboin said, because there's multiple variables that go into making it correctly. When making the first rose, it was tough to determine how much to bend the petals to get the right look, Palmer said.
The club made 95 roses on Wednesday and sold about 25-30 of them on Thursday, Jillson said. The students like making the roses, he said, because it's different from what they usually fabricate.
"We all got together as a club and made them together," Jillson said. "It's kind of fun because it's something different than their daily routine."
The students are responsible for calculating how much material they need to make the roses and ordering the material, Jillson said. They also have to figure out material costs per rose.
"It was a good learning project, too," Jillson said.