Student sells boomerangs on campus
What do boomerangs and North Idaho College have in common? Just one thing, or one person I should say, and that would be current NIC student and welding major Alex Romero.
Dating as far back as 10,000 years, boomerangs have been used for multiple purposes, the most recent as an entertainment mechanism for kids and families as well as for sport. The boomerang was originally used for hunting, however Romero has added a new purpose to the list with art.
Romero began crafting boomerangs in his senior year of high school as a side project.
“I saw someone trying to make a boomerang in my high school wood shop and I started thinking about how they work and then I just got inspired,” Romero said. “I couldn’t stop till I could make one work and fly right.”
Romero has taken the craft of the boomerang to the next level by painting beautiful images on top of the boomerangs.
“I’ve done Rastafarian and other styles but they’re never the same and they all fly differently,” Romero said. “I try not to do anything twice.”
When he first started in the crafting of boomerangs Romero said he first attempted to construct one by just instinct on what he felt it should be shaped like.
“It didn’t work so I went on the Internet and I learned from what I saw and so I made my own,” said Romero.
After the first failed attempt Romero proceeded to attempt constructing another one which he said worked to an extent but did not travel very far.
“The heavier it is the more inertia it has so the further it can go, but too big and you can’t throw it because of the amount of strength you need to throw it, but too small and it won’t go very far,” Romero said.
His second and third attempts however were more successful with his third being the one he was most proud of.
“The third one I made was the best one I’ve ever made,” Romero said. “It broke and I lost the pieces, so I could never make one as good as that one but it would go so far if I threw it as hard as I could.”
Romero said he made five boomerangs at first as practice before he mastered the skill. He estimated that he has made around 40 since he started and began selling them during the summer of 2012.
“I feel like I make them because it’s not something I can verbalize, the art speaks for itself,” Romero said.
An unpainted boomerang crafted by Romero averages in price at $20. For the painted ones he charges $10/hour or however long it takes to complete the piece; after completion Romero evaluates the price of the finished work all together.
“The wood working is as much as an art as the painting,” Romero said. “If you have great wood work, it’s almost a shame to paint over it, the combination of the woodworking and the esthetics and function of the boomerang is an art.”
The average boomerang takes an average of two hour to shape. Very little machinery is used and the boomerang is mainly shaped by hand. Romero uses local Baltic Birch wood (commonly used for cabinetry), a handheld jigsaw, an angle grinder with a flat wood sander and a metal blade to prevent any damage to the wood and finishes it off with orbital sanders.
Adding paintings to the boomerang can average an additional 4 hours of work depending on the complexity of the image. Boomerangs crafted by Romero have been sold at the Long Ear music shop as well as a board shop during Car d’Alene.
Romero said that his interest in art is an extension of who he is. He has studied and practiced several forms of art, and took several different art courses at Rosemont Community College in California.
“I’ve always been able to do paintings and draw,” said Romero. “I kind of invent things from time to time.”
Romero expressed that he has always had an interest in flight and has constantly been making things from glider airplanes, to wood workings to bronze casting, ceramics, metal working and leather works. Besides art Romero said he is also inspired by aircraft engineering and how the wind foil generates lift.
“I do pretty much every medium you can do,” Romero said. “I’ve made several intricate and complex things in the workshop.”