Friday, April 16, 2010

Steel Blackening Trials / Rust Appreciation

Who knew it would be so hard to turn steel black?  So many choices, so many chemicals, so many trials:  Gun Blue, Presto Black, Presto Black Gel, Slate Black...all recommended by various folks, all disappointed us in one way or another.  Some gave the steel a rainbow trout sheen, which was cool but not what we were seeking.  Other patinas yielded various shades of brown/silver/black.  All of them highlighted the welds which is what we are trying to blend in the first place.  Without going to the trouble and expense of powder-coating, how does a fabricator get a nice even black on his steel projects?  We have settled on the Presto Black Gel after wire-wheeling the whole thing; sand-blasting the metal actually seems to inhibit the reaction, which surprised me.  Here are photos of two sample pieces before the trials (top image is wire-wheeled and sand-blasted, the second is just wire-wheeled):

The goal is to blend in the weld with the rest of the steel, which has a lot of beautiful texture.  To be honest if it were up to me I would leave the bases outside in the rain for a few weeks and let it rust, then clear coat it.  But the trend these days is for steel fixtures with that blackened, gun metal look.

Our trials have been inconclusive over the past week so we will keep trying today in advance of putting the stools together for the Crucible's art show at the Open House this Saturday.  Here are the same pieces after our patina trials:

I hereby propose a worldwide "rust appreciation" movement WHEREBY we proclaim that rust is beautiful and WHEREBY we realize rust never sleeps and WHEREBY we don't want our fabricators using gross chemical treatments in an attempt to vainly inhibit rust, which is beautiful and never sleeps.

Thank you for reading and we hope to see you at the Crucible on Saturday checking out our stools--

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