Steel, when used in sculpture, represents rigidity, strength, and durability. Along with these attributes, steel can be easily cut, shaped, and painted with the right tools and preparation. The abstract dimensional multi-colored welded steel sculpture above is an example of steel”s versatility. The large flat panels where plasma cut from 16 gauge sheet with a piece of angle iron as a straight edge. The washers were scrap washers chemically stripped of their galvanized coating. They ,along with various lengths of remnant round bars, were welded together to form the matrix of this modern sculpture. The washers themselves were hand painted in bright colors to become part of the artwork while still being very functional.
Polished Steel Balls AS Accent Pieces
One interesting feature I included in this work is the incorporation of two polished bare steel ball bearings as accents. Sometimes it feels like the hard glossy enamel paint obscures the fact that this is fact metal art. Having the metallic glint of bare steel helps to keep it all in perspective.
Transparent Colored Acrylic Adds Depth To Sculpture
Metal sculpture has many finishing options to create the desired visual effect. Adding transparent colored acrylic plastic adds depth and can cast interesting lighting and shadow effects as seen in the post modern memphis styled metal wall art shown above. Also, when the colored transparent acrylic covers or partially covers panted metal, the paint colors can seem to be a different shade or even a totally different color.
Transparent Red Acrylic Over Bare Aluminum
When the transparent acrylic plastic is applied directly over bare metal, the reflective sheen on the metal and the light filtering properties of the acrylic produce its own unique effect. The minimalist mixed media wall art shown above has red transparent acrylic glued to a bare aluminum block mounted on a wood board.
I like regular and iridescent colors for my metal sculptures. One of he most interesting color effects is the ombre effect. This is where colors fade into other colors. Many times is usually the same color just fading into different shades and tints of that color. The sculpture photo above is an example of this type of hombre.
Multiple Color Ombre
An multiple color ombre allows an artist to created more striking results. This is especially true when complimentary colors. The abstract metal panel wall art featured above has red at the bottom of the metal ribbon and abruptly transitioned into red’s compliment green. At the top is a much bluer turquoise color. The possibilities with ombre are limitless.
Over the years of making various metal sculpture and decor pieces, I have experimented with several finishing techniques. There is a lot of talk in gamer forums about using color washes with acrylic paints to add a weathered and more authentic look to game pieces and figurines. Recently, while examining a random scrap piece of steel tread plate, the idea bulb went on over my head. With the rough texture that the tread offers, why not try a color wash based on oil so I’d have the added benefits of rust prevention as well. I wanted the bare metal and tread to show through but be distinctly colored as well. The way I accomplished this was picking up a can of Rustoleum Subrusnrise Red and adding that to some Flood Penetrol. Penetrol is basically an oil based paint modifyer to help with brush marks and leveling. It is basically linseed oil, alkyd oil and mineral spirits. By adding at least twice the amount of Penetrol as the amount of oil based paint, the color becomes more translucent and collects in uneven pools somewhat like water color. For non-porous surfaced like the tread plate, it is best to apply the mixture only in the horizontal position so it will level off and dry properly.
Brazed Nail Midcentury Modern Tread Plate Wall Art
To the sculpture above I did apply my color wash rather liberally so it took about three days to dry completely. The Penetrol will slow down the drying time of oil based paints considerably. Outside of that minor flaw, I am stoked with the addition of a new technique in my arsenal of metal working skills. The Brazed Nail Midcentury Modern Tread Plate Wall Art is available in my Etsy shop.
A recent addition to my etsy shop is this simple beauty I constructed from 1/4″ square steel bar and sections of steel pipe. The rods are all arc welded for maximum strength and color matching characteristics. There are three distinct layers of rod intersecting at various points for added depth and multiple points of focus.
Artwork For Any Wall
Because of the natural brushed steel finish and pleasing lines, this wall decor looks good on any wall from a plain white painted wall to a textured stone or wood paneling decorated wall. It is also coated with a durable rust preventative clear coat finish. To get a chance of obtaining this one of a kind Dimensional Abstract Steel Wall Art, click on the link for more information or to browse my other items in my Etsy shop.
Usually when using brazing to join steel and other metals together, I am working with rods,nails, or other small hardware. The main theme on most of these has been mid century decor with emphasis on square cut nails. It is only through handling of the brazing process that I am familiar with the smoothness of the weld beads. Not have a TIG welding rig, I find brazing especially attractive as a method in construction of more conceptual metal art pieces. Take my latest work in progress for example, I wanted to join thin 16 gauge steel squares and rectangles in a 3D space without having huge welds protruding with obnoxious weld spatter everywhere.
The metal looks dirty and rather unattractive at this stage primarily because of the smoke, heat discoloration, and burnt flux. Once clean, the brass brazing joints will glow gold against the shiny grey steel. This alone will be an attractive finish with a rust preventing lacquer. But there are many other finishing possibilities either covering or leaving the brass weld beads exposed.
Here are a few more views to appreciate the volume of the composition.
This is the latest addition to my tool collection. Best part is I made it. Most if not all the steel was scrap and drop cuts. This contribution significantly reduced cost. It’s not pretty but has significantly more bending leverage than many of the imported brakes I could have purchased.
Bends made in Different Thicknesses of Steel
From left to right, bends made in 14 gauge, 16 gauge, and 18 gauge steel. Most smaller hobbyists brakes can only handle 18 gauge maximum. If I carved a groove with a grinder at bend, I have no doubt I could bend 12 gauge or even 1/8″ plate if need be. But I feel those thicknesses will be better handled with a home made rig driven by a 20 hydraulic press.
Brake Easily Stores
Although I originally intended to permanently fasten to a benchtop. I decided that I like storing it by leaning out of the way.