Zach Tarbell: Zach Tarbell is a lead instructor for the MCC Welding & Fabrication Program and one of our senior welding and blacksmithing instructors. Zach specializes in fabrication, shop skills and metallurgy in the welding department. For blacksmithing, his strengths are toolmaking and bladesmithing. He has a decade of experience in the welding and fabrication industry, ranging from structural/architectural to motorsports to repairs and maintenance. Zach was a graduate of the MCC Welding & Fabrication Program, Class #13, and has been teaching here at the Rochester Arc + Flame Center since 2015. In his spare time, Zach enjoys developing his skills as an apprentice bladesmith, telling dogs how good they are, and building irresponsible off-road vehicles.
Scott Quick: Scott Quick is a lead instructor for the MCC Welding & Fabrication Program and has 15 years of welding experience in the field. He started his welding career in the military where he attended the Army’s Metal Worker School, 44B. Scott went on to work for the Department of Defense as an Army/Civilian Technician where he enhanced his welding and fabrication skills. Seeking additional knowledge and self-improvement, he enrolled and completed the MCC Welding & Fabrication Program. Since graduation, Scott has instructed a wide variety of welding classes at the Arc + Flame Center. Scott would like to leave his students with a statement, “Being an instructor is a profoundly challenging and rewarding job.”
Eunsuh Choi: In addition to being a lead glass flameworking instructor, Eunsuh Choi also teaches a variety of welding classes. She is a graduate of the Industry Welding & Fabrication Program, and is now an assistant. Eunsuh also assists the collegiate welding class for RIT Engineering students.
Chris Ciesinski: Chris Ciesinski is employed fulltime at R.E. Ginna Nuclear Power Plant as a Welder/Mechanic, specializing in TIG and Stick pipe welding. He is a graduate of the MCC Welding & Fabrication Program and began assistant teaching in 2016. Chris teaches MIG, TIG, and Stick welding courses and weekend workshops throughout the year. Chris is a military veteran in the United States Marine Corps, and also enjoys hockey.
Gareth Barry: Gareth Fitzgerald Barry is a Sculptor born and raised in Rochester, New York. He’s been involved with the Rochester Arc + Flame since 2012, having initially graduated from the Welding & Fabrication Program. He has also earned degrees in the arts from both MCC and RIT, and since 2014 has worked for world renowned sculptor, Albert Paley. The abstract sculptures that Gareth creates range in size from small intimate work to large scale public artwork. He uses his acquired skills of metal fabrication, finishing, casting, carpentry, and painting to create art. Gareth has exhibited his work at various galleries and festivals, and his work has been purchased for display by many businesses and institutions.
Don Burns: Don currently teaches the MCC Modern Welding Techniques course held at Arc + Flame for MCC’s HVAC and machining students. He initially learned how to weld from his grandfather when he was fifteen years old. From here, Don attended the BOCES 2-year welding program through Spencerport High School. He graduated with honors and continued to Alfred State College and where he received a degree in welding. Don considers his specialty in the welding field to be stick welding and enjoys doing repair work on heavy equipment. He is a self-taught mechanic at his home shop and enjoys working on classic cars with his father and modifying and riding ATVs.
Chris Hauser: Chris Hauser has welded for nearly a decade, and specializes in the TIG welding process. He started his education at Mahany Welding Supply’s 5-Week MIG Night Course. Several years later he enrolled in the MCC Welding & Fabrication Program. After completing the program he was asked to join the team to assist with classes. Chris is primarily involved with night and weekend classes, but he has taught collegiate welding courses for RIT Engineering students, MCC HVAC and MCC machining students. Chris works in the engineering field full time and generally spends his “free time” off-roading, playing golf, and welding!
Candace Martens: Our Blacksmithing Director, Candace Martens has been blacksmithing since 2006 and is the driving force behind the Arc + Flame's smithing programs. Candace has also served for several years as the President of the New York State Designer Blacksmith's Association. A strong proponent of continuing education, Candace has taken dozens of classes with instructors traveling all over the country from Maine to North Carolina to Minnesota in order to strengthen her skills. She has taught blacksmithing, jewelry, knife making, enameling, and chainmaille to over a thousand students since the opening of RocAFC in 2012. As a 4th Degree blackbelt in Aikido, her teaching experience extends many years further and brings a unique perspective to her smithing. With her formal training in Civil Engineering, Candace bridges art, science, and steel into a comfortable and rewarding learning experience.
Brian Martens: Brian Martens is a founding staff member at the Arc + Flame Center. Brian took his first blacksmithing class in 2005 under local smith Richard Rightmyer to learn how to make his own woodworking tools. Falling in love with the feel of hot metal under the hammer, Brian quickly poured all his free time into advancing his smithing skills. Brian has been teaching both blacksmithing and coppersmithing here at the Arc + Flame since 2012 and is a frequent demonstrator for public events such as The Great New York State Fair. Brian is an electrical engineer by day and holds a 5th Degree black belt in Aikido, serving as the senior instructor at his dojo. He finds many commonalities with the efficient body movements of martial arts and the proper ergonomics for blacksmithing. Brian has blended the arts to create effective and safe hammering techniques for people of all sizes. Brian has served as both the local Forgemaster and state Treasurer for the New York State Designer Blacksmiths (www.nysdb.org) which is a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of blacksmithing skills. As an engineer, he is fascinated by the science of blacksmithing, specifically the metallurgy that goes into tool making. He may be technical but Brian firmly believes that learning only really occurs when you are having fun.
Jon Kelley: Jon Kelley is one of our blacksmith instructors here at the Arc + Flame Center. His journey as a blacksmith began in 2015 when he took his first class. Jon immediately joined the New York Designer Blacksmiths where he currently sits as Forgemaster for the Genesee region. He continues to learn from guest instructors at Arc + Flame, and travelling to other schools for classes. Jon believes he learns most from instructing others. Outside of teaching, Jon is a historical interpreter of blacksmithing at the Genesee Country Village. His interests include the history of metallurgy, the properties of steel and how they apply to tools, and the creation of objects for his home.
Joe Schmitz: Joe Schmitz studied blacksmithing for over five years and specializes in ornamental blacksmithing and bladesmithing. Joe graduated from the MCC Welding and Fabrication Program at the beginning of 2019 and has since started his career in the welding industry. Outside of welding and blacksmithing, Joe is an avid tabletop-games player, including Magic The Gathering and Dungeons and Dragons, where he participates in local groups and tournaments.
Katie Labenski: Katie Labenski is a blacksmithing instructor that has been part of the team since 2015. Her first experience at Arc + Flame was through the NYS Designer Blacksmiths club meeting. She loves expressing her artistic talents through metal! Katie especially enjoys making pretty hooks, candleholders, hair pins and corkscrews. Her true passion however, is dog grooming. She owns her own grooming business where she is committed to making every dog look their best! Katie believes that there is an artist in every one of us and she loves how teaching allows her to help others expand their creative horizons.
Dan Hertzson: [Description Coming Soon]
Brady Frazer: Brady Frazer began his blacksmithing journey in 2019 with a sampler class here at Arc + Flame. Since then his focus has been on tool making, traditional joinery techniques, and creating functional works of art for use around the house. Brady graduated from Clarkson University in 2018 and works as a Medical Device Engineer in Rochester, NY. In addition to blacksmithing Brady loves watching hockey games and is a lifelong Bruins fan.
Madeline Dibble: "I first got involved with blacksmithing back in high school with our little gas forge and fell in love with all aspects of it. There’s nothing like taking a piece of scrap metal and making it into something amazing. My tech teacher took me to the Rochester Arc and Flame for the first time in 2016 and I came back 5 years later for the blade smithing class with Candy. When I met everyone, my first thought was these people have the same passion I feel for this craft. I have my Bachelors degree in Kinesiology from SUNY Brockport and was a full-time personal trainer for a time, I’m hoping to get back into coaching throwers for track and field in the future. Now I’m a full-time painter for Colors of Rochester, where I get to transform people’s visions into a reality for their homes. One day I hope to start my own painting business as well as my own blacksmith shop."
Eunsuh Choi: Eunsuh Choi is the archetypal immigrant’s tale run through the artist’s filter. Choi arrived in the U.S. having already completed a Master’s degree in glass from Kookmin University (Korea), but was determined to pursue further glass education. She chose the Rochester Institute of Technology as a place where she could study both English and earn a second MFA degree in glass. She is a portrait artist, whose flameworked pieces are personal narratives, portraits of her own moments of growth. Eunsuh also participated in several glass classes from Corning Museum of Glass and an online architectural course from Harvard University Graduate School of Designs. Choi’s work has been featured in a number of magazines in the USA, Germany, and Korea, and her artworks are also on permanent collection in the Corning Museum of Glass, the European Museum of Modern Glass, and other world renowned organizations. Choi has been working glass for over 22 years and has a solid studio art experience in metal, clay, textiles, and fiber art. Her experience in glass includes flameworking, kiln forming (casting, fusing, and slumping), cold working, stained glass, mosaic and glass blowing. Choi joined the Rochester Arc and Flame Center in 2012 and has taught a wide variety of glass classes since then.
Phil Rogerson: Phil Rogerson teaches both glass flameworking and glass fusing. Phil has about 10 years of experience in the glass field and has studied extensively at The Corning Museum of Glass. His specialty lies with soft glass bead making, but he also enjoys fusing glass! Phil appreciates teaching because it is his chance to pass along the knowledge and skills he has acquired to the next generation of glass artists. He’s been on the Arc + Flame Team since the company opened its doors back in 2012, and has been teaching classes ever since. Outside of glass, Phil is involved with drawing, painting, and has done medieval and Celtic style illuminated calligraphy. In Phil’s previous career he was a boat designer. Phil’s other hobbies include playing the flute and additional instruments as an amateur musician. In addition to working at the Arc + Flame Center, Phil also works in the Health and Safety Department for the University of Rochester.
Heather Behrendt: Heather Behrendt is one of our glass artists here at the Arc + Flame Center. She has been working with glass for eleven years and it all started with an elective in high school were they worked with stained glass, fusing, and lampwork glass. Years later she set up a home studio and developed her skills in soft glass, making beads, jewelry, and marbles. Most of Heather’s work uses detailed stringer to form linework and drawings. She enjoys teaching at Arc + Flame to help others develop their own glass skills and style. In her spare time she enjoys exercising, spending time with her husband, and spoiling her two cats.
Lisa Spittal: Lisa Spittal is a teaching assistant in our glass flame shop. She started working with glass in 2015 when she took a class here at the Arc + Flame Center and became hooked! Since then, she’s been spending as much time as possible here, learning new skills and techniques. Most of Lisa’s glassmaking time is spent at the torch, creating everything from pendants and marbles to cabinet knobs and fixtures. Lisa was thrilled to join the Arc + Flame faculty as a Teaching Assistant in 2018. She has found that creating something by playing with fire is the perfect antidote to her “day job” working with computer systems!
Joshua Hudak: Joshua Hudak teaches and assists glass blowing classes here at the Rochester Arc +Flame Center and the Studio at the Corning Museum of Glass. He also teaches stained glass techniques at the Rochester Makerspace. In his glassblowing work, Josh feels it is important to leave evidence of the creator’s hands in every finished piece, which is a challenge when manipulating a 2000 degree substance! Working with glass never stops feeling magical to him, and Josh’s goal as an instructor is to show students that they are all capable of performing that magic.
Craig Zaremba: Since 2017, Craig Zaremba has established himself as the lead instructor of chainmaill classes at the Arc + Flame Center. He is a self taught chainmail artist and has been practicing the craft for over 10 years. Craig makes most of his own aluminum, stainless steel, copper, and bronze jump rings. His most recent project is learning how to anodize aluminum rings for color. Craig is also a middle school science teacher in the City of Rochester, where he gets to share his love of learning with others. In addition to making chainmail jewelry, he is an accomplished woodworker, guitar player, and a self-proclaimed master fixer of “stuff.” Craig looks forward to teaching you the art of chainmaill jewelry making!
Mark Thone: Over the last 11 years, Mark Thone has been completely immersed in the field of creating handmade jewelry. He worked professionally as a bench jeweler, and during that time slowly started building his own business, Heart on Sleeve, which is now his full-time career. Being a maker is Mark’s way of life, not just a job. Mark’s formal education comes from the Rochester Institute of Technology’s School for American Craft. He earned a BFA in Metal’s in 2012, and continued for another year at RIT as an artist in residence under a few brilliant artists who gave him significant guidance and encouragement. During his residency, he began working with students as a teacher in elective classes and realized this was something he’d like to pursue. In 2013, Mark began teaching his own classes at the Memorial Art Gallery and has continued teaching ever since. Mark approached the Arc + Flame Center in 2017, and was given an opportunity to join the team shortly after. A few of Mark’s jewelry skills include (but are not limited to) design, soldering, piercing, forming, and many others. He tries to split his work time between carving stone and creating with metals. Mark also enjoys hiking and rockhounding in the area, which provides great opportunity to use unique and local gemstones in his jewelry.
Michael Krupnicki: Executive Director, Owner
Megan Searle: Admin Coordinator