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Metal finishing Q&As since 1989


Need metal and solution for blistery finish for artwork


I know nothing about metal and would like to create an art exhibition of drawings on metal. I want a soft metal that I can hammer into and malipulate the surface finish with a liquid solution. I have been experiemnting with lead and tomorrow I will try copper. I would like to get a finish that looks like a metaphor of pain - blistery. Can anyone help with types of metals or solutions (salt/acid etc) or head me in a helpful direction.


Ilka Nelson
artist - Brisbane, QLD, Australia

First of two simultaneous responses --

It is probably going to take another artist to understand what it is that you want. You are not going to blister a metal with a solution applied to it. Soft copper is probably going to end up your metal of choice. If you liked the lead, you could try pure tin which is also very soft. Aluminum might work, but I do not think that you can get the same quality of hammertone finish.

James Watts
- Navarre, Florida

Second of two simultaneous responses --

Well depending on what metal you are working in, you can achieve different results. If you are working copper sheet (which is a reasonably forgiving material) there are a number of patina (oxide forming) recipes of varying colors. As for the "blistery" look get a ball peen hammer and a thick chunk of leather (or other similar squishy material) give a whack with the rounded side and turn it over. Different surfaces give a different look to the side you're working on, wood, concrete, steel, dirt, etc.... Good luck.

Marc Banks
- Elizabeth City, North Carolina

Another thought I had reguarding the finishing of your work, use wax to break up where the patina will be applied, if you apply the wax hot then cool it very quickly (use ice) it will fracture and crack in a very intresting pattern. Try it and see.

Marc Banks
- Elizabeth City, North Carolina

for Ilka I use co2laser to cut various metals esp aluminium and stainless theres a few solutions used on the metal before being lasered for various finishes I have a gravograph in my workshop

melanie mason
- brisbane
August 18, 2009

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