Mid Century Starburst Key Holder

mid century key holder

Mid Century Retro-style

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.

mid century key holder2

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.


Design by Desperation-When Everything Fails, Invent a Solution

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Frustrating Development

I have been working on a large mid century nail sculpture since early April.  I finally completed the work to customers satisfaction.  This week was the time to build a shipping crate.  I had everything measured and cut and it all looked well.  I had 6 mounting blocks to secure the art in the crate. one for each mounting hook.  It was when I was trying to screw the art into blocks I hit a snag.  Apparently, I was not going to get a washer to hold down the hook.  What was I to do?  I surely was not inclined to open my wallet and buy a solution to my problem.  I needed to use what I had on hand.

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Big Ah Ha! Moment

Once the thought of using some kind of wire to secure it, I knew I was not far from a solution to ,my dilemma.  That is precisely the moment I opened one of my storage bin drawers containing a couple hundred paper clips.  I said YES!  Already, I realized I can use TWO screws and TWO washers instead of one to secure each hook.  Also, since they are steel wire they can bend to the contours of the surface for added support.  Just to be safe I used two paper clips, one on top the other to distribute the load and keep the tension.


This is a demonstration of the problem solving skills developed in creative endeavors such as making sculpture.  It is my belief we were all born to create and we can all grow from exercising this ability.

Metal Wall Decor



Metal wall decor

There is nothing quite like metal for your home or office decor. Metal is strong yet is relatively easy to shape and there are numerous finishing options available depending on what metal is used. Metal wall art is best because it takes up far less space and a lot more art can fit in a room. Please feel free to browse the articles and the listings in this page.

Purpose of Metal wall art

The purpose of metal wall art is to add a unique style to a room or office. I can be in a style that reflects on the style andcharacter of the owner. Also, it could be the piece that brings conflicting design elements into harmony.Take for instance, this mid century wall art sculpture titles “Quadrant” made from masonry nails. It employs the natural finish of wire brushed steel contrasting with the bronze weld joints to create a subtle but interesting work of art. More sculptures like this and more can be found in myEtsy shop JTBmetaldesigns!

Distressed Copper

Distressed CopperII have made numerous wall decor from masonry nails but this time I decided it was time to incorporate some copper. I wanted to try some folding techniques and the creases came out nicely. After I was done with all that I gave the copper panel a “seasoned” texture with the round part of a ball peen hammer. After brazing the copper to the dimensional assemblage of brazed nails, it looked pretty good if I don’t say so myself.

Metal art featuring aluminum with grinder patterns

Abstract BlueA popular style in these times is metal wall art made by polishing and grinding patterns into aluminum. It is a metal that gives the brightest reflective depth with this technique. It is often accented with transparent paints or lacquer.

Incorporating Wood Into Metal Wall Art

Eye of Horus
Incorporating wood into a metal sculpture allows the artist to add more depth and dimension without adding too much wieght.  Take for instance this Egyptian inspired “Eye of Horus”  wall hanging.  It is a poplar board painted in a distress faux golden finish.  The texture was created using toilet paper!

Industrial Chic

Industrial ChicSometimes you need a little bit of grittiness to your sophisticated decor. This is where industrial chic comes in handy. This wall art is a culmination of found objects that where saved until a composition came to mind. I lightly dry brushed various shades of copper and bronze paint until the finish was uniform then I clear coated the artwork.
The above featured art had already sold but I have another offering below in the abstract industrial wall hanging titled “Cold Blue”.
cold blue

The Various Styles of My Metal Art


My Metal art


I make metal art using various techniques including braze welding, wire arc welding, and stick welding. I make alot of my own forming tools from left over scraps to keep cost down and my enjoyment up. I get alot of inspirations from other artists as well as architexture and nature. All my works are a labor of love and an appreciation of form and color. You can view my work in in my Etsy shop.

Sources of inspiration

Decorative coat rack from repurposed metal I draw inspiration from many sources. I get inspired from other artists, state of the art architecture, and nature itself. Sometimes I like to take some discarded metal and give it a new lease on life. The coat rack shown here was constructed from a lame planter and leftover metal stock.

Modulated sculpture

3 stars Sometimes a design oppotunity cannot be ignored despite how small the designs is. The compromise is artwork made of numerous smaller modules. Here I have made these 6 inch stars out of braze welded masonry nails. They can be arranged in any layout that seems appropiate for your decor. These wonderful additions to your decor are available in my Etsy shop.


boltbot CHeck out this robot candle holder I made up of scrap nuts and bolts. What a great way to recylce! Click on this link here to visit my shop listing for this item.

How to make perfect steel rings

This applies to making steel rings with rods quarter inch thick and less. For thicker material, you will need a torch to heat the metal as you bend it.
In this installment, I bend three sixteenths rod scrap around a mendrel I welded together from a section of six inch diameter pipe. I use a pair of vice grip to hold the rod against the mandrel and I use leverage to wrap it around the mandrel one and a half revolutions to ensure proper curving of the steel.

Results of steel ring forming

Scrap metal converted to perfect 6 inch ring! After the rod is wrapped around the mandrel to ensure the prope rcurvature, it is time to cut the ring from the straight rod. Keep in mind that you will need a significant overlap so the ring will close properly. If you do not overlap then you will have a large gap when you align everything to weld. Once it is all aligned, tack weld it in place and if not too distorted then continue welding. Finish up by grinding the weld smooth.

Torch Perforated metal

This is an interesting technique. What is done is a thin gauge steel sheet that might be 22 to 26 gauge is heated with an oxidizing flame on the oxyacetylene torch until the circular hot zone melts and leaves a whole. It really is a quick process and besides the holes also leaves a dimensionally textured surface. In the example in the photo shown here, after the perforation I melted bronze onto the steel to give it a multimetallic surface.

Candle Holders

I love to make candle holders. They make such wonderfull gifts. Take, for instance, this 3 heart candle holder. It would make a great gift for Mothers day, Valentines, birthday, or anniversary. Also, they really add to a rooms decor. If you would like to see more,just click here.


One of the most elegant and usefull items a metal sculptor can make is a clock.  There are several companies that sell clock movements and specialized clock hands.  Nearly anything with at least a partially flat surface and the capability to have a hole drilled can be converted into a custom timepiece.  Take the contemporary post modern wall clock above.  It is an abstract time piece that would make a bold statement in any room with its contrasting iridescent colors and clean geometric lines.


Art deco set of 2 While on the subject of candle holders, I want to discuss wall mounted sconces. A good example is this set of two art deco tealight/votive candle holding sconces.

Brazed Cut Nail Sculpture

Art from Square Cut Nails


During the 1950’s and 1960’s was the modern art era now affectionately referred to as midcentury. Becuase of the rise of technology and the excitement surrounding the space race. This gave rise to a more contemporrary art style with hard lines and geometric shapes. And with that movement we have art made from cut nails, or more commonly called, masonry nails. The wedge shape of these nails allows them to be welded
into countless arrangments. The most striking pieces are ones made by braze welding with a bronze brazing rod. This allows the natural contrast of the two metals steel and bronze to shine create a mood.

Adding Various Accents


Creating dimensional wall sculptures with cut nails does produce an eye catching work of art.  But then again, what could possibly be wrong with a little of embelishment.  Take for instance this Eames Era wall hanging.  It features some verticle accents made from braze welding RG45 rod together.  Also, There are three strategically placed hemispheric accents that are actually fence pipe weld termination ends.  They are painted in three different colored metallic paints to draw in the focus on the piece.

A seven frame sculpture

7 frames When I made this, I wanted to create something different than I had before. So I made these frames with a nail going diagonally through them. I also included 3 semipheracle pipe ends as accents.

Creating work of smaller modules

3 stars This is where I wanted to create a set of smaller units. This way ideas that come from smaller pieces can be considered. These 3 stars have an ancient appeal to them for sure. I hand brazed each one and they can be arrange anyway you wish. This gives flexibility for people with a discerning eye for efficient use of space. The art is available at this Etsy listing. Just click and see more details

Etsy Coupon for August


Mid Century Nail Sculpture

There is a new Etsy coupon code for my shop for August in celebration of my newest work.  Every item in my shop JTB Metal Designs is 15% when you spend at least $30.  The coupon code is MIDCENTURYMADNESS and it expires August 31st 2013.

I recently uploaded my latest creation to my Etsy shop.  It is an Eames era Mid Century Modern Metal wall sculpture made from cut nails brazed together in a geometric formation.  This in turn is adorned with hand formed brass and copper decorative accents.

Cut Nail Sculpture with multicolored accents

Multicolored accents on steel nail sculpture
I found it was time to make a bigger braze welded sculpture. To enhance this sculpture I chose steel accents painted in brilliant multicolored metallic colors.  These where airbrushed over the primed geometric accents.  These, along with the brazed nail support, where sealed with a gloss lacquer finish to enhance the metallic finishes.  This sculpture is available in my Etsy shop.
When I made this sculpture, I attached mounting hooks so it could be wall mounted either horizontally or vertically to increase versatility.  Mounting this vertically will get you the most decorative impact when horizontal space on a wall may be limited or if you need to change the perspective in your decor.
Near Perfect Circle Without Plasma Cutter!
All these accents were meticulously HAND CUT with an angle grinder.  No plasma cutter or water jet was used!  The circle above looks perfect but it is not.  I was designed with a $2 compass, a Sharpie and was cut manually from 16 gauge steel sheet.  The lines were maintained and after cutting as close as possible to the lines without removing them, the shape edges where grinded to the lines. 
Controlled Spraying Creates Interesting Effects
The metallic paints where applied with a single stage airbrush.  Two or more colors were sprayed on the accents to give interesting shading and contrast effects. Take note that the single stage airbrush lacks the precision and the finesse of a two stage aribrush with a trigger assembly.