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.
If your decor needs a retro 1970’s style addition, then look no further than this mid century starburst key holder. It was hand braze welded with an oxygen acetylene torch and is largely made up of masonry square cut nails. The filler metal used was bare bronze brazing alloy. A paste flux was used to prevent oxidation during heating.
Brazed Masonry Nail Starburst
The second image captures a more closeup perspective of the functional art. You will notice how the shiny bronze joints set themselves as quite a contrast to the gray steel near them. Although this key holder may be considerably larger than my other key holders, I am quite pleased with this creation and I feel it is still quite comfortable to fit in any home or office.
After the recent sale of the key holder me and my family have used for the last few years, I felt the pressure to replace it. I immediately thought of a steampunk theme. It is the driving force force for me to acquire steel gears from surplus sources.
This industrial chic steampunk key holder pretty much came together as I imagined it. I first arc welded the gears in what I thought was an interesting pattern. Then cut a square steel bar I had handy then I hand formed my hooks. I maintained an imperfect natural steel finish to add to the industrial chic charm. This key holder could work in a number of decor settings. It could perfectly fit in with a vintage country cottage or an ultramodern contemporary work space. The possibilities are endless.
This brilliant iridescent blue three cube contemporary metal sculpture my latest creation. It consist of three different sized cubes made from 1/8″ steel plate welded in 3D hollow forms with an oxygen acetylene torch. You can read more about the process here. It does take practice to do this efficiently. It is a combination of choosing right welding tip size for optimum heat output as well as the correct travel speed to minimize warping the hollow forms.
This sculpture was carefully assembled to get the most of the angles and perspectives available. To add to the bold arrangement of three dimensional shapes, a pearl blue mica paint job was applied to the cubes. This helps to accentuate the dimensional qualities of the piece. To elevate the cubes, a stand was created with 1/4″ thick steel plate and a 5/8″ round rod. This stand is painted gloss black so the iridescent pearl blue cubes are able to stand out more.