Found Metal Art Sculpture: A Guide
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Published: Thu, 03 May 2018
Found Art (or best know as scrap metal art) is a beautiful and creative way to express yourself and the things that you like. I would like to share with you what types of things that you will need, why, different things, types of things, that you could use and why you should do scrap metal art. Here are some of the categories that I will be hinting on with you; what is it, safety equipment, what you need, the set up, how the different kinds of welding works, why do it, things that you could use, types of metals and the process of creating your art. This Art has been around for Millions of years, but the earliest that they can pin-point was from Marcel Duchamp. He was born in the 19th century but his art didn’t really get noticed until the 20th century. Even though it took so long for Marcel’s work to get noticed it has thrived since then, “Junk Art” is more active than ever right now.
First of all, what is Found Metal? Found art is an unusual type of art that includes creating pieces from “found” objects that are not usually considered to be artistic in anyway. Most of the objects used in Found Art usually have a completely different purpose and are modified in ways to make them into a piece of art. But to do this you need safety gear. This includes; Safety glasses, Welding helmet(the auto tinted ones are the best to use because when you put your helmet over your face you can actually see. It will darken when a bright light reflects. If you use a non-tinted helmet you will pretty much be doing things by feel.) Then you will need welding gloves(Preferably with no holes for your sake.) A long sleeve shirt and a long sleeved welding jacket, Welding boots(Leather), and boot cut pants. If you are really nervous you could also use a fire resistant apron and ear plugs.
Now, you need these because it’s for you! If you’re doing this at your house it’s up to you but the helmet if to prevent flash burn which can damage your eyes even if it’s just once if you’re not careful. The safety glasses are to prevent the slag that you are chipping off from going in between your helmet and face so you don’t burn your eyeballs or any soft tissue around your eyes. You need gloves because the metal gets really hot and so are the rods when they are taken out of the oven. The long sleeve and the jacket is so that when you chip slag it won’t catch your clothes on fire and/or burn yourself. Now, this will not completely protect you from chipping it and angling it the right way which will be wrong for you but, it can still get between everything perfectly and burn you, just part of the art. The boot-cut jeans are to put over your boots and not tuck them in because a piece of slag can get in between your pants and boots and burn your feet. You need the leather welding boots, not fluffy boots or tennis shoes because a spark or slag will get on your shoes and burn through them but not it you have leather boots on.
Then we move onto the equipment that you will need. To start off with, you need a welding machine (preferably an all welding machine.) This will come with the negative ground clamp that goes on to workstation to pull and guide the puddle where you want it to go, or the direction that you are trying to weld towards. It also comes with all the guns for the three different types of welding: Stick, MIG and TIG. Stick uses welding rods that get clamped into that specific welding device, MIG uses a spool of wire that burns like a stick but doesn’t leave any slag to chip off, which is a much cleaner and easier process to go through, and TIG is a gun that produces a lot of heat but you need a filler rod with this one. So, you will use a gun in one hand and a rod in the other. This is kind of a mix between Stick and MIG welding.
The set up is fairly simple. You just turn the machine on, pick whatever gun you are going to weld with, get the rod or wire setup. Then you need to pick a number set-up which most of the time is 1. Then you will need to pick the temperature number(how hot you want it to burn.) Be careful with how hot it burns though so that you don’t burn through the project or go through the metal on the edges. Usually there is a chart telling you what to put the temperature at depending on the position that you are welding at, the material that you are welding on and how thick the material actually is. Lastly, you need to make sure that wherever you are doing this, the house or building, has enough power to operate the machine. So if you have a 220v machine which is the most common machine make sure that there is at least 230 Vs for that specific use.
Do not start welding yet though. Whatever metal that you are using needs to be cleaned off first. Sand off the metal so that don’t have scales that flake out from your weld. Make sure to stay close(pretty much right on the metal) or the spark will go out and there will be a burn mark on your project. After each pass make sure to chip off all the coating(slag) and then brush the junk and powder that is released off the metal. Depending on what you’re doing and how thick you want it depends on the rod also. The thicker the rod, the thicker the weld will be. The faster you go the less weld that you be there. One last thing to look at when you’re welding it the angle that you’re holding your rod at. If you’re holding the rod straight at the project and welding then that is where your weld will come out of, if you’re holding the rod at an angle and welding then the weld and slag will burn off from that angle and it will not come directly from the tip of your rod(the angle will not hurt your project at all.) Just make sure that you watch your puddle and go.
How does stick welding work? The welding rod is the piece of wire coated in slag(flux coating) that gets clamped into the stick welding gun that is connected to the machine. A current is fed through this wire which helps to join two pieces of metal together firmly. There are different rods though like, 6013-610-7014 and ect. This just determines the different diameters and other things that make a difference when welding. As just stated thickness determines how much weld is being put down at a time, the smaller the rod, the less weld that goes onto your project. There’s also different types of heat resistance and how resistant the weld is to hydrogen. If you want some people can relate this to the numbers that nail polish has. Those numbers tell you what color it is, the shade of the color and some depending on if it has sparkles in it. This is the same with the welding rods just different meanings.
Now, why should you even consider scrap metal art? Why does it even matter? First of all, it’s a very unique and original art that you create and do by yourself. It saves on scrap or waste that may be laying around which means you can recycle anything that you have. Welding is hard but it is a really good skill to have. When create your art you can literally use anything that you have laying around the house that you thought had no purpose. You can use anything from building demolition things to a simple hanger. You can make anything that you want out of anything that you have! It’s really easy, you just need to get an idea of what you want to do first.
Generally any type of metal can be put in two different categories; Ferrous and non-ferrous. The difference between Ferrous & Non-ferrous metals are that Ferrous Metals mostly contain Iron. They have small amounts of other metals or elements added, to give the required properties. All Ferrous Metals are magnetic and give little resistance to corrosion. The types of Ferrous metals that are most common are any type of steel(regular, Carbon and stainless) Cast Iron and Wrought Iron. The common types of Non-Ferrous metals areÂ aluminium, copper, lead, zinc, nickel, titanium, cobalt, chromium and precious metals.
Why should you do scrap metal art? I personally do it because it is fun and it tests me sometimes but mostly because I like to know that I’m recycling in a way. Why should you care about that though? In 2015, more than 67 million metric tons of Ferrous Metal was recycled by the U.S. scrap industry which had a value of 30.1 Billion Dollars. A steel mill that uses recycled steel reduces air and water pollution by around 70 percent. Everyday, approximately 100 million steel and tin cans are used by Americans. As for Non-Ferrous, 25,000 statues of Liberties can be built with coppe that the U.S.A. recycles per year. The scrap Aluminum that is thrown away every month in the U.S. is enough to rebuild the entire American airfleet. In 2014, the U.S. Scrap Industry processed .83 million metric tons of aluminum. Now all this means is that we are very wasteful and to make these numbers go down and quit wastings stuff more people can create art out of scrap and reduce these prices. This is why you should care because a lot of metals are going to waste when, now-a-days we can use these objects and make them into art now and not have so much “junk” around.
Now you can finally start welding. Place the pieces where you want them and make sure that that is exactly how you want them. Hold them in place however you can with whatever you will need. Then, with whatever weld method that you choose, start welding! But one other thing that you have to take into consideration is using the welding rod all the way down to the number and letters or else you will just be wasting good rods. A lot of people think that just because you’ve already struck it it’s too hard to try and strike again, well, all you have to do is get a scrap piece of metal that you can strike it on again and then scrape the end on something and it will be as good as new.
All you have to do now after you get done with you project is to pick up the bad rods that are burnt all the way down, sweep up the slag(flux coating) that you have chipped off, turn off your machine, wrap everything up and put it away and then put the access rods that are still good or haven’t fully been used back into the heating oven. After everything is done and cleaned up, you’re left with a beautiful piece of art made from “junk”.
Finally, to brief you back up on what we have talked about, we have talked a little bit about the history of Found Metal,the first person that they can pinpoint and when it actually started to get noticed, and where I personally learned it from which was the IAI. I’ve talked about what Junk Art actually is, the definition of it and what it actually is. Then, I went on to all safety equipment and why you should/need to have them on(it is for your protection). I described how to set up and how everything works,the tools that you will need and what the different uses for them are. Then I explained why you should do this art and gave you some statistics about all the junk there actually is, the main point being that it recycles a lot of waste that, with this art, isn’t waste. I’ve talked about the different things/ranges of things that you could use that usually no one thinks to use(house demolitions to hangers). I talked about the two different categories that metals are most commonly out in and the most common metals in the two categories(Ferrous and Non-Ferrous Metals, Ferrous being magnet and having Iron in it). Then, I did a guided on how to create what you want to make such as; reshaping, piecing together, holding/supports, welding and then painting if you would like. Lastly, I just talked a little bit about how to clean up and what you will expect when it comes to cleaning up the mess,pick up all the pieces and sweep up.
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