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topic 24187

Metal finishing techniques for small sculptures


Hello Reader!

I am a blacksmith and a welder and I have been creating small sculptures. I need ideas of different ways to finish the metal to give a complete and great look. I mainly work with iron and steel.

Thanks for your expert advise! Maureen

Maureen Hearty
hobbyist - Denver, Colorado


G'Day Maureen,

Finish is in the eye of the beholder. I have played with varying finishes over the years, but the artistic appeal of a stick rod set at a high amp range and played over a thin sheet can give it a memorable look. It's that look that many were never able to better when you first start out learning to weld.

Plasma cutting torches used experimentally on scrap sections would and could be another way to highlight a sculpture. Were you to make something in S/Steel then seamless welding where the "join" becomes invisible is the key....polishing,buffing, doing the hard yards can give an effect that might well foster a sale. Look around...rust in the right timeless.

Even the treatment of rust can give special effects.....try grinding with a coarse disc wheel...then change direction on an area you previously did...gauge the effect...cover with a clear lacquer.

Different type of finish ain't it ?

Michael Hein
Michael Hein
- Sydney, NSW, Australia


Hiya Mike Hein!

Thanks a ton for all the ideas, looking forward to trying them out. As for the rust, well that's happened on several pieces just b/c I neglected to do anything else and your right, turns out I'm going to leave it as is.

Keep having fun!

Maureen Hearty
- Denver, Colorado


I recently saw a new building that took the galvanized roofing material and rusted it and put it on the side of the building as a decorative piece. My husband is trying to build an old fishing shed and I would like to take some of the roofing material and make a nice sign for his fishing shed. But first I would like to rust it and then paint on it. How do I go about rusting it and then sealing it to paint on it? Or do I seal it after I paint? Please help me out my husband does not think I can accomplishing this project. Thanks for your help.

Lori Unger
homemaker - Pagosa Springs, Colorado

April 6, 2010

You can use muriatic acid on the sheets to start the rusting process. Make sure you do this outside and have plenty of water for rinsing available. After it is finished you can use a clear lacquer spray paint to seal it and help prevent further rusting. It may need to be refinished every year or so.

Mike Smith
- Pagosa Springs, Colorado

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