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.
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.
While going through some left over plasma cutter steel plate, I also grabbed a handful of miscellaneous lengths of round bars and went to work with my oxygen acetylene torch. What I came up with is an artwork that is capable of resting and standing in any position that is imagined.
Torch Perforations For Affect
I also used the torch to intentionally melt holes through some of the steel. It makes it look more interesting and raw. This sculpture could be placed on a lighted pedestal in such a fashion to allow the light to permeate the perforations to cast beautiful shadows.