Treasure From Trash: How Discarded Metal Home Furnishings Get A New Life Part I

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Discarded Metal Home Furnishing

One this about living where I do is that we have community dumpsters.  As a metal artist, I often look at new metal stock and  visualize metal art compositions.  Other times I pass a dumpster and see a discarded metal object and I snag the opportunity.   I am not sure if this was a magazine rack or a wine bottle holder.  Feel free to comment if you know.  All I knew was there was already a bunch of perfect rings that were screaming for a new lease on life.

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Removing Woven Material

Once I acquired this item from the dumpster,  I was already designing wall decor in my mind.  With that in mind, I saw no use in keeping any of the woven top featured in photo above.  Now I could have used a grinder or hammer and chisel to break through.  It was pretty warm out and thought all that labor was little bit much.

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Into The Fire Pit!

I had some old bills and documents. So I put the woven table upside down in the fire pit and then the bills as kindling.  Poured kerosene until the a paper was soaked and the woven material was damp.  I lit it with a min torch.  The woven material was gone in less than 2 minutes.

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Metal On Fire

Aside from looking completely awesome, this fire served three useful purposes.  One, I got rid of a stack of papers that cluttered a shelf in my dining area.  Two,  I wanted to remove the woven material from the metal frame without using cutting tools.  It is fact made from a plant based fiber material and was quite dry so it combust rapidly and easily.  Third, there was a flat black paint on the metal frame.  The heat breaks down the larger organic molecules in the paint into smaller ones.  This makes the paint and any primer underneath easily removed with a wire brush.  Although fire can be very dangerous if misused, it is very handy when working with steel and other metals with high melting points.

Ring Panels Removed

Afer everything cooled down I had only a metal framework to deal with.  It turns out I have useful patterns and components for  a few artistic creations.  I got my 4.5″ grinder out and began to cut the welds joining the ring panels to the rectangular frame.  Despite the number of cuts, the rods are only 1/4″ to maybe 5/16″ thick so this process went by quickly.  I found myself with two ring panels roughly 17 inches wide and 26 inches long.  My next task was to take a wire brush to the ring panels.

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Most of the paint came off but there is some residue.  That is of little concern, since I only need an electrical connection for arc welding.  Once I get the accessory pieces welded and joined on, I will repaint this flat black again anyways.

 

STAY TUNED…..

 

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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Brazed Metal

 

 

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Accented Braze Nail Sculpture

A lot of my work revolves around braze  welded     square cut nails.  This concept was originally developed during the mid century movement in the 1950’s,1960’s, and 1970’s.  It has seen somewhat of a comeback. Personally, I love the aesthetic quality the brass joints contribute to the steel nails.  I put my own personal twist to this concept by creating and using my own accents.  The piece pictured above, Eames Era Accented Brazed Sculpture, is a perfect example.  I took a scrap piece of round steel bar, cutoff pieces of pipe, a rectangle of expanded sheet, and assembled them into unit that dominates the sculpture.

As can be seen, I stuck with the natural steel finish.  It is wire brushed in places and not others to combine to give both a polished and rustic finish.  A gloss lacquer finish is applied to protect.

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.

Spring Has Finally Sprung!

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The Harshest Winter of a Generation

Yes spring has finally arrived.  It could not come soon enough.  This winter has been the snowiest and one of the coldest in 30 to 35 years!  The photos above sums up pretty much the weather pattern from New years until about March 10th.  A long series of severe winter weather events, each followed by subzero cold.  There were a couple times we would have a warm up and thaw but it was usually only for a day maybe two.  Most of the snow from the previous storm would remain only to be added to by several more inches from a new storm system. By the way, the photos on top were taken on a frigid Saturday morning that was 4 above zero!

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The Meaning of Spring

Spring is the season of new life and beginging.  It is a time of birth and awakening.  For me it represents new inspirations for creative endeavors.  It is also inspiring for reorganization.  Many times, you have clutter collecting dust in the winter because it is too cold and dark to get motivated to do anything about it.   This spring is very special due to the severity and ruthless nature of the winter season.  I built a steel shelf with the promise of better weather and longer daylight hours.  I have several organizing projects in line to make my creative process a much smoother and pleasurable experience.

Update

Well it has been interesting.  Now it is the middle of April and we have left the snow and ice behind.  Now we a on roller coaster wetted by rain.  We rotate between near summer warmth to damp coolness associated with later winter or early spring.  May will bring better conditions.

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I have done less of the creative metal work lately.  I have instead been occupied with objects of utility such as steel shelving and welding fixtures.

An Iridescent Abstract Table Sculpture

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Vibrant Iridescent Glazes

I present this finished work as a followup to my post “Braving Bitter Cold to Create Metal Art”.  Although the Reflex Violet Pearl Ex mica pigment that was airbrushed looks cool, the real magic is the layers of blue green paint on the triangulated plate.  A base of opaque blue green was followed by various shades of turquoise and blue.  The  final touch was a glaze made from gloss acrylic medium and metallic blue green.

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Playful Golden Curve

The purple and the iridescent turquoise glaze are stunning for sure but a little on the cool side.  This sculpture needed a contrasting color for the curved accent.  The royal gold color answered this call well.  It is warm and sunny but not so blazing hot that is takes the focus away from the background.

 

In the past, I usually painted the bases to my table top sculptures gloss black.  This time I used phthalo blue.  The base will look great against a light colored marble surface.

This post modern table sculpture is available in my Etsy shop.

Scorpion Art

Scorpion Sculpture and art

 

In this installment, I will mainly cover metal scorpion sculpture but I will feature scorpion related art as well. The image of a scorpion invokes fear in most and awe in many. They make us think of a lone hunter roaming for prey in the desert sands at night.
 

Scorpion in the arts

Scorpion tattoo Probably the most common art where a scorpion is in tattoos. But they also occur in metal scuptures, digital imaging, and custom painted cars and motorcycles.
 

One Very large upcycled metal scorpion

Large Metal Scorpion Sculpture This is a sculpture made of salvaged metal parts. It is one imposing masterpiece. According to the artist, it is more than 40 inches in length and weighs in at a hefty 98 pounds!  

Upcycled hardware scorpion

Handmade scorpion While browsing Etsy again, I found this Upcycled scorpion sculpture made from various nails, washers, and other hardware items. It shows that what your junk drawer can produced with the right amount of imagination.