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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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Tired Iron Tired Iron is offline
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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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Old 02-19-2007, 12:10 PM
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evaldart evaldart is offline
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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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Tired Iron Tired Iron is offline
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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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iowasculptor iowasculptor is offline
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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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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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evaldart evaldart is offline
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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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evaldart evaldart is offline
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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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