Metal Patinas and Finishes and Metal Art

Published: 23rd October 2008
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A work of metal art is not complete when the fabrication is done. Finishing the art work is essential not only to complete the effect and enhance its appeal, but also to protect the metal form discoloration, rust and corrosion. Modern technology has provided a variety of options for applying patinas and finishes. Many patinas and finishes are for use only with specific metal and alloys. Among the varieties available are:

• Clear acrylic finishes are transparent coatings given to works of metal art to protect them from the effect of water and environmental pollution (such as acid rain or atmospheric chemicals). This may either be applied on the bare metal or as a protective coat for painted surfaces. Acrylic finishes may be either completely clear or may have glossy or matte finishes, depending of the effect desired.

• Multi hued patinas for copper art work are used for creating a uniform tarnish and are useful for giving copper an aged look. Since the natural color of the various pieces of copper joined together in a final work of art may vary due to even the slightest differences in the metal composition or the forging process, this will provide color uniformity over the entire artwork.

• Colored patinas may be applied to copper bronze and brass artworks. The most common shades are green, blue and a blue and green combination.

• Ornamental rust finishes are used to create a rusting effect and the appearance of age to ferrous metals like copper and steel. The effect of rusting is created without actually damaging the metal.

• Pewter patinas are applied to darken metal and give the artwork an antique look.

• Black finishes are applied to steel surfaces to give the aged and antique look. The patina may be either glossy or matte, depending or the artist's choice. However, if the artwork is given a glossy finish and is placed in a brightly lit area where the affect of the light may be to make it too shiny, the finish may be easily redone with a black matte patina, and vice versa.

• Blued steel is steel which has undergone special heat treatment to give it extra strength or other functional characteristics. Blue patinas are available to give steel artwork this kind of finish and create an "industrial" look.

• Red and reddish brown finishes are often used for outdoor works of metal art like sculptures to create an effect that enable them it fit in more naturally with the natural surroundings.

• Some artists like to give their work a scorched or burnt look. This may be done without actually heating the metal by applying finishes that create a kind of rainbow effect of scorch and burn coloration on the metal surface.

These are just some of the patinas and finishes available today. If you have bought a piece of metal art and want to change the finish or patina, there are finishes you can apply yourself to create the look you want. If you come across the work of an artist that interests you for its structure and design but not its color, you can talk to the artist about either changing the color to something more to your taste of about creating another piece in the color you want.

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