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.


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

Cool Steel Plates I Snagged for Artistic Inspiration


Never Underestimate the Power of Scrap

The metal supplier I frequently obtain my raw materials most of the time has at least some drops or cast offs.  While going through the scrap bin, I found these 4 wonderful 1/8″ thick steel panels.  They appear to be for an instrument with perhaps a video screen or some kind of monitor.  They were probably discarded because errors in plasma cutting or wrong positioning of holes etc..  Never the less, I snagged them up already seeing their mid century appeal. 


My first project was this abstract mid century wall hanging with a decidingly southwestern color scheme.  I made this in early September when it was still 90 degrees with the idea of fall colors.  I used all oil based colors for this on the main body and water based gold acrylic on the “attenas”.  A nice lady from Phoenix purchased this from my Etsy shop last week. I made out OK.  Next panel I want a simular design but with a range of blue hues.  More later.

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.

Pyrrole Red Artist Pigment

Pyrrole red a modern color innovation

this lens' photo

            For centuries, when artist wanted a bright red color able to withstand sunlight and maintain its intensity, they naturally had to rely on mineral pigments. The most commonly used was the cadmium based pigments. Although these are very durable and light fast, the pigments themselves are very toxic. This toxicity makes these pigments unsuitable for spraying.
Over the years, researchers have developed organic alternatives but they have been inferior to cadmium based reds. Either the tint was not as strong, they lacked covering power, or they faded or cracked with age. Pyrrole red is a recent innovation that not only addressed the shortcomings of it predecessors, it is a viable alternative to cadmium reds with much lower toxicity.
A Gift from the Automotive Industry 

FerrariMany artist may not realize it, but many modern innovations in pigment development have their roots in the automotive industry. Automobiles are. for the most part, exposed to the elements. Without a durable scratch resistant finish, the metal that cars are constructed of would rapidly corrode in the outdoors. Part of a durable paint job, is the pigment. A pigment that has covering power, and light fastness is important. The automotive industry put forth a lot of money for research especially for a durable red pigment for high end sports cars. What the research came up with was pyrrole red. In fact, the color Ferrari Red is in fact Pyrrole red.
Bold statement with 3D art in Pyrolle Red   

Pyrolle Red Wall HangingNow we have a general idea how pyrrole red came to be an artist pigment, I want to present a 3D sculpture painted in this bold pigment.  Yesterday, I wrote about this sculpture in bright red paint.
The sculpture featured here is a 3D geometric wall hanging painted pyrrole red. The modern style and warm bright red color will make a bold statement in your office or home.
The photo below shows a close up of the sculpture and you get a sense of how this warm red enhances this 3D sculpture.
Color Mixing with Pyrrole Red 

Color MixingPyrrole red is an organic low toxicty lightfast warm red pigment. Being warm means that the red is shaded to more of the yellow or orange range. Mixing with blue will not yield a bright purple however. Therefore, mixing pyrrole red with a bright yellow such as Hansa yellow to give a brilliant orange. But, when mixed with blues the resulting purples are muddy and muted.

 Resources for More Information

Color Mixing with Pyrrole Red
An informative page about mixing pyrrole red with other artist colors.
Wikipedia article on Pyrrole
A scientific article on the structure, uses, chemistry, physical properties and preparation of pyrrole.

Brass covered nail project Part 3 coming along



The large brass overlayed steel nail project is really taken shape.  It is getting bigger.  Started with several subassemblies.  These subassemblies are then braze welded together.  As the size increases, the weight does to and it becomes more fragile.  When full sized it will need some support braze welded to the back.  These braces will also feature the mounting hooks.

Quadrant Brazed Nail Sculpture


“Quadrant” A Distinctive Brazed Nail Sculpture

This is one of my hottest selling items in my Etsy shop.  Because of this, I make on demand.  It is a small work at 13.5 inches by 13.5 inches but it is bold and dimensional and will make a statement in just about any decor.  At $31 plus shipping, you cannot beat the value of this art handmade right here in the USA.  Take a look at the dimensional view in the photo below.  If you want more pictures or to purchase just visit this items Etsy listing.