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  #1  
Old 02-17-2007, 11:08 PM
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evaldart evaldart is offline
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Steel outside: to paint it or not to paint it

My dilemma: Steel is more than enough. The way it looks in all its varying conditions, the rawness, the changes. And this natural finish also seems honest and is well-suited to my very manual processes. But there have been times that the form has seemed to ask for a friendlier topcoat than rust. Paint/ color perhaps. I have only ever painted one piece and I suppose I do not regret it but now a couple of more pieces are timidly stepping up for corporate casual. But it can't be undone, and it pains me to put anything between the eye and the steel...a shroud of pigment changing it forever.
When do you paint it and when do you refrain?
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  #2  
Old 02-19-2007, 10:40 AM
ironman ironman is offline
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Re: Steel outside: to paint it or not to paint it

Hi, big dilemma for sure! The problem with rusted pieces is that they stain whatever (usually concrete) they're mounted on. Clients don't like that.
My decision to paint or not to paint is based almost exclusively on serendipity. Generally my found object work is left as raw steel and my larger more planned out pieces are painted. The choice of color is usually dictated by the sculpture, in other words, it "speaks " to me and "tells" me what color it should be. Sounds strange, I know, but I've gotten many good reactions to some odd colors.
Be careful if you want to use multiple colors on a piece (I never do) because color is powerful and it will destroy form if not used with intelligence.
I use automotive primers, paints and clear coat and I don't like the process very much but don't see any alternative except maybe using stainless steel.
I have brush painted small pieces with artists acrylic paints over auto primer and they've been out in harsh SW New Mexico sunshine for over 12 years with little or no fading as far as I can tell. The art supply stores now carry UV inhibitive clear coat that should also help.
I do have a friend who uses Walmart latex house paint right on top of the steel, he wire brushes the scale off and then brush paints his pieces directly with no primer. He claims it works great and is as tough and durable as anything else out there. It's certainly much cheaper than auto paints and from what I've seen of his work it does seem to hold up well.
We seem to live in an age when the slickness of a nicely painted surface is more desireable than the rough and raw non finish of a good coat of rust. I think this goes hand in hand with the image conscious techno driven society that we live in.
Auto acrylic enamels come in a million different colors so you've got plenty to choose from. Most of my colors seem to come from the late 50's to the late 70's, Ford, Dodge and AMC.
One last thought, my "to paint or not to paint" decision is purely whimsical but I rarely get a sale of the raw rusted work and I don't think my larger painted pieces would have sold without a nice slick shiny coat of paint.
Have a great day,
Jeff
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  #3  
Old 02-19-2007, 11:51 AM
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Re: Steel outside: to paint it or not to paint it

My first attempt ever to sell a piece was via ebay. I didn't know how or what gallery to approach. It was all based on a friend's statement " You could sell these things you are making." I was just making stuff for the sheer fun of it. So....I thought Hmmm ..I'll give this thing a coat of auto gray primer, list it on ebay. State right there that it has a primer on it and that the buyer could paint it any color they chose to match their decor. Well the one interested party was from Sarasota which is considered a big art community. COOL! However...she said " boy, if you hadn't painted it I would bid like crazy on it." I said " Don't call me Boy!" Just kidding... I did lose the sale as I see it. My brother said " sandblast it, Piss on it and email her that you fixed it for her."

I never did try ebay again. I was making large pieces in the beginning. Those I didn't want to get involved in a finish with. As I started making smaller pieces ( cause my wife pointed out that most of the galleries I had the stuff in had BMWs and VWs and Mercedes with leather interiors in their parking lots) I decided I needed some sort of finish that would keep rust off of those interiors as well as off of whatever carpet ,mantel whathave you that it finally found as its resting place. A friend suggested a clear coat. I really like the clear coat now. It leaves everything a gun metal gray or iron color. Some pieces I tried a matte finish on . It looks good on some , not on others. I like the gloss finish best. The nice thing about the clear coat is that you can see that I have actually joined the pieces of metal and that each piece was once just that...pieces of old metal joined. Also if I braze the pieces it really shows off the joints. I still think of painting pieces with color. Maybe a piece that would basically be viewed as people drive by it's location and never get a chance to see it up close, for instance. The color would make it stand out from natures natural earth tones. I'm talking about BIG stuff. If you do have a small piece that you want to color, the" bake on" anodizing" stuff that auto detailers use may be the way to go. Also I believe the "Rhino" coating for truck beds now comes in a variety of colors and should last for years. Find out if there is a bedliner sprayer in your area.. You may find that is the ONLY way to go! Hey, How about showing us the piece you are considering...maybe we could vote on it!

Eventually, I have been thinking, I would like to try the last two ideas I mentioned. For now I just want it to get warmer up here!!!!!
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  #4  
Old 02-19-2007, 12:10 PM
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Re: Steel outside: to paint it or not to paint it

Thanks for the input Jeff, I'm right with you on all your feelings about this and I feel I will be painting some pieces where form and composition is a greater issue than process and material. I suppose visual unity is really what I'm after but sometimes paint affects the visual "wieght" of the piece and hides some manual processes that I hold important as subject. I'd hate to lose any of that. And good found objects, machines parts, gears, chains, flywheels, etc. might be diminished. The stains, comes with the territory. Even if you paint it you'll eventually get some. Aluminum and stainless don't like to be treated the way I treat the steel , so we don't hang out much.
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  #5  
Old 02-20-2007, 07:33 AM
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Re: Steel outside: to paint it or not to paint it

Eveldart, got any pics?
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  #6  
Old 02-20-2007, 09:18 AM
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Re: Steel outside: to paint it or not to paint it

if it's going inside you can do many surface treatments. I have used thinned out oil paints and rubbed it into the steel surface, it retains the metal but gives it a color. I also have used wood stains (red) which worked really well. Gun Blue with a sealant can give you a reange of colors gold to black. I have seen a copper solution which turned the sculpture green. I have also heard of people heating up the sculpture and rubbing it with a brass wire brush and getting a brassy color. For outdoor work I have turned to powder coating. I happen to have a friend who does it for me but its ithe same paint they use on NAVY missle launchers, made to hold up to very corrosive salt water conditions for at least 20 years. The key is to seal up your steel with laquer, wax, etc... if you do that it will stay whatever color you give it. You may have to reapply the sealant to maintain work outside.
good luck
Matt
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  #7  
Old 02-20-2007, 10:46 AM
ironman ironman is offline
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Re: Steel outside: to paint it or not to paint it

Hi, Powder coating doesn't last any better than automobile enamel, it'll scratch just as easily and just as with auto paint, if not properly done will have problems.
You can also heat the steel and paint on linseed oil.
Have a great day,
Jeff
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  #8  
Old 02-20-2007, 11:31 AM
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Re: Steel outside: to paint it or not to paint it

I like the linseed oil finish. I have a special recipe for a good sized mayonaise jar. 1/2 boiled linseed oil, 1/2 turpentine, with a shot glass of japan dryer. Wipe it on with a rag then remove excess with a turp only rag. It lasts very well outside, there is no visible coating or shell like most clear urethanes and enamels and as it does finally wear out it does so evenly and beautifully allowing for a silk-like brown down the road. At which poit you could do it again and restore it completely for a very long time to come. Powder-coats and auto body treatments resound of production processes, something I usually avoid in all my work. Slopping something on that is loud and assertive (I love that powereful red-orange that everybody uses, really sets yoiu apart from the trees)is more my style. pics comin soon, trading tome some tech help for some beer tonite.

Last edited by evaldart : 02-20-2007 at 02:10 PM.
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  #9  
Old 02-20-2007, 05:35 PM
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Re: Steel outside: to paint it or not to paint it

this is the only piece I have ever painted, I used a hard shell tool-coating (spray) over an industrial oil based primer (hammerite). dont be surprised if there is no picture, this is my first time.
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Last edited by evaldart : 02-20-2007 at 05:55 PM.
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  #10  
Old 02-20-2007, 06:14 PM
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Re: Steel outside: to paint it or not to paint it

Looks great! Boy some of those pieces look mighty familiar there partner. You been a snoopin round mah scrap pile?

So this was a commissioned job? Is that it's permanent spot? Where is it? Keep postin pics!
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  #11  
Old 02-20-2007, 11:14 PM
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Re: Steel outside: to paint it or not to paint it

Better watch it Tirediron, you spend too much time down there in Florida and you won't be able to guard that pile of yours.
That piece is at Burlington County College presently. They do a nice yearlong juried show, beautiful setting, and give you a few bucks for your trouble. Plus, its right off a path between my house and NYC that I beat all the time anyway. Sometimes its worth it just for the photo. more pics comin.
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  #12  
Old 02-21-2007, 10:11 AM
ironman ironman is offline
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Re: Steel outside: to paint it or not to paint it

Hi, Yeah, that scrap does look familiar. I'll bet every dairy farm in the country has at least a ton of that stuff just hiding in the weeds waiting for some wacko sculptor to come along.
Evaldart, thanks for the linseed oil recipe. I've used straight linseed oil brushed onto heated steel but it's hard to control the heat and if the piece is too hot your paint brush disappears!
Have a great day,
Jeff
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  #13  
Old 02-21-2007, 10:57 AM
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Re: Steel outside: to paint it or not to paint it

Yeah ironman, the japan drier provides the "heat" and lets it all set up real nice. here are some pics (hopefully) of two recently completed pieces that I would consider painting. The red on the first piece is left over from the plow that it used to be.
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  #14  
Old 02-21-2007, 06:00 PM
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Re: Steel outside: to paint it or not to paint it

That first one looks like a power angle sail! Complete with hydraulics...
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  #15  
Old 02-22-2007, 07:27 PM
arcdawg arcdawg is offline
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Re: Steel outside: to paint it or not to paint it

Its difficult to decide on if to paint or not to paint. esp since the trend now a days is to leave it natural (rusty) I like a natural finish but I feel that it will actually take away from the piece....Ie you cant see it (when outside)

As for my indoor pieces they dont get painted. I coat them with a wax mixture and it seems to last for a long time. My outdoor pieces get a good coat of primer and mulitpule coats of paint or I will send it out to get powdercoated. I have also used linseed oil for when I want that natural rusty look -

Powdercoating seems to be the best finish you can get but its expensive and it depends on the size of the piece, Too big they cant fit it in the oven to bake the powdercoat on.

I leave it up to what the gallery/client wants.
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  #16  
Old 02-22-2007, 08:02 PM
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Re: Steel outside: to paint it or not to paint it

I paint almost every thing I make to look like antiqued metal. If it goes outside I put on a primer coat first. I especially like to put on a base coat of hammerite, followed by a misting of a contrasting or complimentary metallic spray paint. As the hammerite does it's dimpeling magic the metallic paint clumps for lack of a better word and intensifies the hammered look. I then add years of wisdom, integrity and lowered expectations by rubbing on then rubbing off a mixture of red clay and carbon black ( color agent for conrete ). The clay works kind of like a bonding agent that never dries which is good because it allows me to coat large areas and walk away to finish anotherday. After I'm happy with the artful application of the antique finish, I coat with a clear coat. Goto photobucket.com and search for aaronschroeder to see examples. I say paint it so it doesn't look painted or not.
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Old 02-22-2007, 09:59 PM
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Re: Steel outside: to paint it or not to paint it

Aaron, checked you work on the bucket, you have certainly found yourself in your own place visually. And your versatility is sure to keep you good and busy. You surfaces are all very activated and I can tell they are nearly as important to you as form. A priority I might benefit to elevate in my own work. I suppose its the reason I initiated this discussion. I guess the labors of the forging, the assembling the hefting etc, deplete me as much as they satisfy me - to a degree that when the last weld is accomplished I call the piece finished. I have been very stubborn all these years in my refusal to give lengthy consideration to final finishing. I figured that by the time I went through all that trouble I could have been half way through the next piece. I aint gonna turn over a new "gold leaf" or anything but it might be time for me to grow up a little in this area. Thanks for your input.
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Old 02-23-2007, 01:09 AM
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Re: Steel outside: to paint it or not to paint it

I used to not be all that concerned with surface treatments, I really prefer the stark display of natural materials but then I ran into clients with their long term concerns. I'm working on a matching sculpture and large address numbers ( 199 )for a building in downtown Columbus Ohio. The sculpture is four feet tall by eight feet wide by roughly one foot thick and the numbers are eight feet tall and eight inches thick. The numbers and sculpture are made to look like dense bundles of quarter inch rod held together by bold straps. I'll post images in my bucket after I post this. Any way I spent today cleaning 200 ten foot long quarter inch round rod. I put the rod in my drill and spin/push it into sandpaper mounted in a pool noodle section in a vice. tommorrow/today I'm going to prime all the rod at once which is laid out on my plasma cutting table. I've found that priming steel before fabrication dramatically reduces clean up time. I like to weld with flux core wire because it gives me deeper penetration, a convex bead and it's cheaper/faster. The primer cuts down on the spatter that sticks to bare metal. The fumes are worse but oh well. The point I'm making is that painting stock before you even start cutting and welding can save alot of time. For a good paint job, the metal must be cleaned and if possible scratched for the paint to get a good mechanical bond, Lately I've found it's so much easier to do all this before hand. Ideally I'd buy preprimed dimesional stock but my steel supplier does'nt stock it. One of these days I'll make a special order or better yet talk my clients into stainless like Ries.
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Old 02-23-2007, 04:44 AM
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Re: Steel outside: to paint it or not to paint it

Quote:
Originally Posted by evaldart
I have been very stubborn all these years in my refusal to give lengthy consideration to final finishing. I figured that by the time I went through all that trouble I could have been half way through the next piece. I aint gonna turn over a new "gold leaf" or anything but it might be time for me to grow up a little in this area.
Boy, we are in the same boat here! Thanks for starting this thread!
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Old 02-23-2007, 08:49 AM
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Re: Steel outside: to paint it or not to paint it

So can you man the oars to that we don't bonk each other? Or are we goin up the creek without a paddle?

jOe~
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Old 02-23-2007, 09:20 AM
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Re: Steel outside: to paint it or not to paint it

We wanna grow up and be just like you, Joe.
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Old 02-23-2007, 11:03 AM
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Re: Steel outside: to paint it or not to paint it

Quote:
We wanna grow up and be just like you, Joe.
Bail out. You're in the wrong boat. I don't have the map or directions!!! So all I can tell you is that you can't there from here. I gave up trying to get there since wherever you go, there you are. Besides, any path will take there if you don't know where you're going.

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  #23  
Old 02-27-2007, 11:25 PM
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Re: Steel outside: to paint it or not to paint it

The more I consider this the more I realize that the honest issue, for me, is visibility outdoors. Not protection from the elements. The steel should not be messed-with but because of competition from the variety of visual information outside - trees, flowers, darting rodents, the ever beckoning horizon and god forbid theres a sprinkler running - I want to paint my babies bright red-orange...turn my beloved steel and rust, for all practical purposes, into plastic so everyone will take notice like so many 7 year olds oogling over a big red fire engine. I resisted this urge, spawned of my own insecurity, today and hope I also will tomorrow. Just gotta take it one day at a time.
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Old 02-28-2007, 07:12 AM
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Re: Steel outside: to paint it or not to paint it

Evaldart, I just read your post from last night. I then went back in the thread and looked at the two pieces that you were considering painting. I would paint them.

My reason , after reading your post, is that these shapes you have made are new to anyone's eyes. The shapes themselves will draw people towards them to see just what it is they have spotted. The bright paint will add to that draw and then the recognition of the pieces you used will only come to light as they studied just how you built it.

The rust thing that you and I appreciate may actually turn people away as a matter of conditioning by society. Go ahead and attract them to that shiny firetruck and then show them what you really are driving.
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Old 02-28-2007, 07:41 AM
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Re: Steel outside: to paint it or not to paint it

thanks Tirediron for making sense. "if I paint it, they will come." maybe its worth a shot. Somehow I think with a nice paint job they will be less likely to suffer the fate of Manwich, who will be enjoying his last meal very soon.
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