Making, Metalsmithing

Color on Metal #2

I learned about sand blasting and powder-coating today! It was the second session of my Color on Metal class at Lillstreet Art Center.

Powder-coating looks like paint; you might recognize it from cars, home appliances, etc.. Apparently, it’s actually a type of resin, or plastic. You conduct a little electricity through the piece, spray it, and then put it in an oven or kiln at 300°F, and it turns out looking like this!

The class seems to go really fast, so this week I brought some pieces with me that were ready to go. I made the purple and green samples shown here, and the teacher used one of my pieces of textured copper to make the pink one.

Plain copper on the left,
sandblasted copper on the right.

The sandblaster is loud (it requires a pretty big compressor) and I love the finish it gives the metal. BUT, it’s not a necessary step. About half my pieces were sanded with 80 grit sandpaper to give it some tooth, and those worked just as well.

In the remaining pictures, you see a little bit more about the set up and the process.

Setting the color in a toaster oven at 300F.
You can combine the powder coat with a special liquid so you can use it like paint or ink.
You can also use embossing powder to add detail, patterns, or some extra sparkle.

My mind is buzzing with all of the possibilities!

Here are some of the color samples:

I had wondered how this would compare to enameling. I feel like it requires more equipment, but once you get the hang of it, it is less fussy than enamel, I think. This feels solid, and the colors are really dense. I like it – but it definitely doesn’t have the luminosity of enamel. Though you can add base coats and/or top coats to give the color more depth.

I really enjoyed the class, and I would like to work with the equipment again. Though I am not sure I would buy my own set up – it is really messy and it takes a fair amount of space.

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