We're proud to introduce our newest employee and long-time customer, Anthony Ortega. He has over 15 years working with fiberglass and resin at his father's shop, Ortega Manufacturing, and is a working artist creating stunning resin sculptures.
"My father taught me good work ethics, which sparked a craving and passion for creativity inside me and thus started my journey as an artist. After working with fiberglass and resins for over 15 years, I found beauty in transparent resin sculptures and the unlimited possibilities of resin art."
Among other things, Anthony will help create a series of videos explaining how to use many of the products we carry while also being a trusted resource for Sherfab customers. Follow his Instagram account to see what he's currently working on, or go to his website to see the beautifully finished piece.
We interviewed Anthony about his time working with composites and what he's working on next.
Explain what it is about resin you like working with?
I am completely fascinated with resins. This product is so versatile, and you can go from making a small resin casting for jewelry to a 50' yacht. Resin products are everywhere, and without them, this world would be a worse place. More specifically, I really admire resins for their clarity. You can make a crystal clear resin casting, or you can let the artist come out of you and play around with pigments and dyes to create beautiful works of art. I love the thrill of racing against the clock in the manufacturing world. As soon as you introduce your catalyst to your bucket of resin, the race is on. You have to get that part laminated perfectly with no air bubbles, get all your layers of fiberglass laid in there and pray that your resin doesn't harden before you are done, and that includes cleaning all your tools as well. Resin is my favorite material to work with.
What sort of projects did you mostly work on at Ortega Manufacturing?
We mainly did high volume production; we did everything from cinema speakers for JBL to trench covers for Edison and for other power plants, front caps, rear caps and compartment doors for toy haulers and RV's, tons of car/truck bumpers wings, and fenders, hardtops for jeeps, carnival rides and slides, conversion van tops, speaker cans for master craft boats. Things like that.
What is the strangest project you have ever worked on?
A project we worked on for an artist in LA. We had to build these large UFO-looking things, and then we had to put threaded inserts on the top and bottom. We then connected them and stood them up on end. They looked like UFO wheels.
What do you think is the hardest thing to do in composites?
When it comes to the manufacturing world, I would say fighting the ambient temperatures. Some days are really hot and some days really cold. Typically there is no heating or air conditioning in those facilities. Temperature can create a big problem; you have to play with the catalyst levels when cold to make sure the product cures right. The cold causes parts to take longer to cure and slows down production. When it is hot, you have to play with the catalyst levels, and the heat shortens your work time, which can cause parts to be defective.
Do you have any ProTips for dealing with Temperature?
For the cold days, you can install overhead heaters, gas, or electricity. You would want to keep the bay doors shut or slightly cracked to keep the heat inside. Also, increase your catalyst levels. You can also change what catalyst you use. They make catalysts designed for cold days. You can also inform your resin and gel coat supplier to shorten the gel time so you can get the parts to cure faster and increase production.
For the hot days, you can get portable swamp coolers and have plenty of fans. You would want to keep your catalyst levels as low as possible. You can also change what catalyst you are using. They make catalysts designed for hot days. You can also inform your resin and gel coat supplier to lengthen the gel time, so you have more time to work with the material.
A are there any projects you are looking forward to working on?
Yes, soon, I will be working on a project that involves vacuum-infused parts. I have very little experience with this method, and I look forward to learning as much as I can.
The first two how-to videos Anthony produced are about restoring fiberglass molds with Ram Buff 800 and how to make your resin art gallery ready. Subscribe to us on YouTube to get notified when the next videos come out. If you have a question for Anthony or a suggestion for a feature video, let us know. We love to hear from our customers!