Public Metal Art in Unexpected Places

I was driving one of my Uber riders to work this morning in a rather rundown part of town.  This is something I do between other jobs as a gap filler for extra income.  The area was an industrial/warehousing area that left much to be desired.  It was a cloudy and rainy Monday’s so I definately was in blah land.  Then suddenly when I was turning a corner into the lot for this particular warehouse my rider works at, I see two very imaginative rusty metal compositions standing there.

imageIt was a definate boost to get my creative juices going.  It was at this moment that it dawned on me one purpose of public art.  To create something aesthetically pleasing in an otherwise drab and uninspiring area.

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Product Review: Preval vFan

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Versatile, Good Quality 2 Stage Airbrush Made in the USA!

The Preval vFan was introduced in 2011 as a well rounded quality two stage airbrush.  It comes with the capability to use 3 tip sizes and can be utilized with 1oz, 3oz, and 6 ounce paint containers. It has numerous uses in the arts, automotive finishes, and around the home.  It can be used a compressor or the aerosol cans for added portability.  There are two types of tips, a standard tip and a fan tip.  Both come in three sizes.  The sizes are .38mm, .66mm  and .9mm.   The .38mm tip is for very fine lines and requires very fluid paints.  The .66mm size that comes with kit is more general application.  It still is for the thinner paints but is great for shading.  I like to paint my metal sculptures most with the .9mm series tips.  This is a larger size which will spray out a larger amount  of paint.  I also would not require as much thinning for the paints and I can spray metallic and pearlescent paints without troubles.

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Using Only the Paint You Need

Spray paint, especially Rustoluem and Krylon, is an inexpensive way to apply a smooth even coat of paint to a solid surface.  The problem is that the nozzles spray a lot of paint in a wide  spray pattern.  If you are painting anything smaller than a dinner plate, you are wasting quite a large amount of paint on overspray.  At $4  or less per can this does not seem all that big of a deal.  If you are going to paint a lot, it will add up quickly though.  Not to mention how difficult it is to paint objects more that one color.  The Preval vFan  has a more narrow and focused spray pattern.  Whats more, the larger nozzle tip allows the use of paints that are not water thin given you have the air pressure to dispense the paint.  In the photos above, I show work being sprayed with a paint which is a little thicker than heavy whipping cream.

Other Uses

Since you can spray any color of paint or any liquid that does not attack the airbrush for that matter, your options are only limited to your imagination.  You can spray a solvent on a painted surface to make a distress or running paint effect.  Also you can apply glazes of different strengths and intensity to build layers for depth.

Industrial Assemblage For Your Tabletop or Bookshelf

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Metal Art With Textured Finish

I just completed this tabletop sculpture from miscellaneous scraps of steel I had lying around.  This is an industrial steampunk  sculpture made from a plate from a discarded garage door opener, a piece of square tubing,  hexagonal rod, and a remnant piece of channel from another project.  This was all arc welded together to form a handsome and bold sculpture.

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Arc Welded Industrial Assemblag

This first photo on the left is a closeup of the body of the sculpture.  The square tube is offset to the left to alloy the circular hole to be viewed unabstructed.  A hex bar scrap that was bent was added as an angular accent to bring balance to the composition.  On the right photo you can see the hex bar staff extending several inches above the plate.  This brings the total work to a height of 19 inches.  The sculpture is 6 inches wide at the widest point.  The piece of channel that is the base is approximately 3 inches by 4 inches.  For this sculpture and more, be sure to check out my Etsy shop!

Torch Firing Vitreous Enamel to Abstract Copper Sculpture Accents

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Melting Colored Glass On Metal

Just when I thought of every conceivable way to add to the methods of enhancing metal sculpture, I discover a whole new world of artistic exploration.  This time, encouraged by my father, I am examining the world of vitreous enamels.  More specifically, the enamels designed for metals.  In this post, I will be applying a transparent enamel directly to copper. Below, you will see the supplies I have for applying enamel.  I have a bottle of a gum solution used as an adhesive. The gum solution dries fairly quickly and when the powdered enamel is fired at roughly 1500 Fahrenheit, no residue of the gum remains.

 

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I also have a 2 ounce jar of Thompson Enamel 2410 Copper Green, a small sifter, and two fold formed copper panels.

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I first brush on the gum solution straight from the bottle onto the fold formed copper panels. Without wasting too much time, I get my sifter and extract some of the enamel powder from the jar.  I gently sift onto the panels.

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I shake off any excess enamel and put it back in the jar for later use.  I have a defunct toaster oven preheated to 250 Fahrenheit.  I place my enameled panels in there to dry the gum solution.  I usually wait fifteen minutes to be sure the copper is thoroughly hot and the adhesive is completely dry.

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I then get out my heating stand and very carefully hold a neutral oxy acetylene flame near the panels.  The oxy acetylene is actually too hot for enameling so you must be alert and intently focused to prevent burning through the copper.  A transparent enamel allows one to see all the phases of torch enameling.  First the copper oxidizes under the enamel as it begins to fuse.  Just then, the enamel will acquire a orange peel texture.  It still needs more heat at this point.  The next stage is some of the opacity is changed into a more transparent affect.  It looks as if you are driving tiny bubbles out of the enamel.  Also the oxides will start dissolving into the enamel.  This allows for a more metallic look under the enamel.  When the desired look is achieved,  the torch is turned off and the panel is allowed to cool.

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After the panels are cooled off, I place them in a copper chloride etching solution.  I made the etchant myself from water, muriatic acid, hydrogen peroxide, and scrap copper.

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For the first ever try at torch enameling, I did not do half bad.  They look rough due to the lack of metal prep but I am after the brutalism look anyway.

Art Deco Inspired Candle Sconces

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Art Deco Design

Art deco was a radical designs movement after the art nouveau movement of the late Victorian period into the early 20th centure.  Art deco features smooth lines and industrial shapes.  Also, new materials, like stainless steel, were incorporated into art deco design.  A perfect example is the Chrysler town in New York City.

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 The sculptural quality of these candle sconces is notable with the curves and hemispherical accents.  The decorative accents are painted with the awesome silver spray paint I recently featured in a post.

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Black is Nice Contrast to the Silver Finish

To really make the glossy silver paint stand out, I chose a glossy black oil based enamel. I do use acrylic paint on metal but oil based enamel is the best. Many times,  a couple coats of oil based enamel is all that is needed.  These are fairly popular and easy to make so I make these to order.  Just check out the listing on my Etsy shop.

How to make a Hollow Steel Cylinder From Tubing

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Cylinder from 2 inch tubing

I have been recently working on some 3D Geometric shapes from 16 gauge steel I plan to use in a sculpture.   So far, my inventory consist of a 4 inch tetrahedron, and a small rectangular box.  Before I go on to make the larger box that will be the main body of the sculpture, I decided I need one more smaller accent piece.  After spotting some old rusty 2 inch diameter tubing in my closet, I thought it would be perfect for the task.  I simple cut out 2 inch diameter disk from 16 gauge steel sheet and round them out with the grinder.  Then I weld them on to each end to the section of steel tubing I have chosen.

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For starters, I decided to place one tack weld with my flux cored wire feed welder from the tube to a 1/4″ steel place just to keep it in place.  I did that becuase there are times the wire feed from the welder may knock the workpiece down if it fails to make proper electrical contact.  I placed one of my hand cut disc on the top and attached it with four tack welds.  Afterwards, I was easily able to break the tube of the steel plate due to the small size of the tack weld.  I proceeded as above to attach the other disc to the tube via tack welding.

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This is the rough draft.  As you can see there is up to 1/8″ overhang from the disc.  That is from tracing the paper circle onto the steel sheet.  Might not be much to look at now but the extra material eliminates the need for filler metal when torch welding.  Yes I will be and have been welding the steel sheet shapes with an old fashion oxygen acetlylene torch outfit.  The oxyacetylene torch is the most versatile piece of equipment for the metal artist.  You are able to braze weld different alloys together,heat metal to bend or form it, pierce or cut steel, and of coarse gas weld mild steel.

 

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The last two photos show the cylinder after is has been gas welded and grinded smooth along with the small box and tetrahedron  with an abstrasive grinder.  Not too shaby if I do not say so myself.

Cut Nail Sculpture with multicolored accents

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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.
 
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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.
 
 
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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. 
 
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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.