Frequently Asked Questions Art's Take on them...
Q: What do you make these out of?
A: Multiple materials go into each piece. Mainly recycled, cold-rolled, American steel, with accents stainless steel, bronze, and other rescued antique metals. For large flowers, the rods are made of a variety of materials, but for the small, petalless flowers and animals such as butterflies and dragonflies, they are generally made of stainless steel.
Q: How long does it take to finish a piece?
A: Very long. Metal sculpting is very labor-intensive, and requires a lot of hammering.
Q: How are these made?
A: I predominantly use a technique called "White Smithing". White Smithing is the ancient technique used to form and shape plate armor in the medieval and renaissance periods. The metal is worked cold, causing the material to blanch, hence "White Smithing". Heating and reheating the metal blackens the metal, which is why this technique is likewise called "Black Smithing".
The color is accomplished by heat tempering the metal until it's crystal size changes to produce the desired color. As the color is determined by the size of the crystal, and not a pigment, the colors cannot fade over time.
The pieces are textured with various grinding effects. After the piece is grinded, shaped, textured, and then colored, it is sealed under a catalyzing polymer.
If you'd like to see for yourself, check back frequently, as I will be posting a video of the process sometime soon.
Q: The one I bought doesn't look like the photos. Why?
A: All the pieces are unique. Various computer monitors may alter photo colors.
Q: How can I clean the sculpture?
A: We find a slightly damp cloth works well. Please do not use abrasives, chemicals, scratch, or bang the sculpture as that can harm the finish.
Q: Do you do custom pieces?
A: Currently, NO. That is a firm NO as there are many projects I am doing as I am honoring those commitments at this time.
Q: Can I come by the studio?
A: NO. The study is a work intensive environment that requires special training and safety gear. This decision was made for our safety and others. Please respect this. We keep the gates locked for a reason. Absolutely No drop ins. They are very dangerous and disruptive. Thank you. We have videos of how we make items and info on our site. Our artwork is best found at stores, galleries, shows, and online.
Frequently Asked Questions Rebecca's Take on them...
Q: What are these?
A: I call them Metal Sculptures, Metal Art Paintings, or Metal Photos depending on the media.
Q: How did you come up with these?
A: I made 2 and 3 dimensional metal sculptures for awhile. I would keep the metal raw, rusted, or heat treated it with flames. I still enjoy doing this, but I also wanted to do more. I wanted to paint, do photography, mixed media, etc. I tried painting on regular canvas and it felt rough. I also painted on wood. I did decoupage, photo emulsions, etc. I did alot, even knitting. I enjoyed these things, but there was something lacking. I was playing
with some metal one day and thought why don't I make my own canvases. I can make them 2D or 3D. I can make them in different shapes and textures. So, I created a metal canvas out of recycled steel. When I painted
on it, the brush strokes were smooth and light. I loved it. The paint just slides over the metal. This was what I had been searching for and now all sorts of new ideas took shape. I love the vivid colors, being able to use
flame, use patinas, use inks, photos, whatever. I decided to take my metal art to another level.
Q: How are the metal canvases made?
A: A metal canvas is cut out of a sheet of recycled metal with a plasma torch. It can either be 2 or 3 dimensional. It can be various steels, copper, aluminum, or the metal de jour. I basically like finding an old piece of discarded metal and giving it a new life. The top layer of metal is ground upon with a grinder first. The grinder can be used to create various pattern effects on the metal or just to clean and smooth it. If it is a 3D piece, different layers may be welded on at this point. The hanger on the back is also welded on and then the piece is coated and sealed on the backside with a rust prevention coating. At this point, a piece may be left in
its raw metal state and coated. Some pieces may also be mounted on wood. And yes, I do make them myself. I also collaborate with Art on various projects and pieces.
Q: How do you create the Metal Art Paintings?
A: I liked making metal sculpture, but I wanted to paint. I also wanted more vivid colors to play with besides heat treating. Thus, Metal Art Paintings were created. Various treatments are used on the metal canvas such as acrylic painting, patinas, inks, etc.The texture and crystalline structure of the metal behind the paint, etc makes the light bounce back and forth through the medium. This helps brighten the colors and gives an added sparkly shimmer effect. I also like to experiment with various textures and treatments. Anything from hot glue, to stamps, to embossing, to just messing around playing with it. The pieces many times have different embellishments added such as glass, wire, metal, etc. There are so many types of things you can add, the limit is the imagination at this point.
Q: How do you create photography on metal?
A: I love taking photos. I am a serious shutterbug. I love doing metal work. So, I experimented with various techniques over years to try to come up with a way to put photos onto metal. I am still researching it. In the fall of 2010, I finally was able to have a finished piece on metal that enhances the photo. I use various coatings. There are also digital grounds that are helpful along with thin film technology and various types of inks. Some photos can transfer easily, others do not. It really depends on the photo and coloring. Black and Whites can be stunning with a ground silvery metal background. I am currently working on trying to create 3D sculptures with photo backgrounds. I learn more everyday and continue to hone the various processes that go into Metal Photos. Especially since my family has lots of pictures!
Q: What coating is on your pieces?
A: A lot of that depends on each particular piece. I literally spent years researching different types of coatings. Each piece depending on what it is comprised of gets a different recipe of coatings. The overall effect is a strong durable finish that is glass-like. It has the appearance of glass, but it is much stronger than glass and will not shatter. I do not want to make something that could accidently drop and shatter into a million pieces. Therefore, I prefer not to use baked on glass. The coatings I use also allow me to go over 3D pieces without having shattering or splintering. I do use various polymers that have to be heated and bubbled over the piece in some layers. I refer to this as something like making hot candy apples. There are layers of UV protection in the coatings as well. Some of the layers I use are industrial strength coatings stronger than what is usually found on an automobile, bartop, or boat. Its very scratch resistant. Once a piece is coated and sealed, it just needs to be dusted occasionally.
Q: Hi, I'm an artist. Can you give me the secret coating recipe?
A: No. Why? Because what you need to coat your work depends on your materials. Again, I have complex recipes I have learned over time for what I do. Its a multi-layer effect. Not just an easy answer. Basically, its complicated. It took me years working with different coatings depending on whether I am using hot rolled vs cold rolled steel, aluminum, wood, etc. I suggest experimenting to achieve the desired effect you want. Its trial and error. Be creative and think outside the box. That's what I did and am still doing.
Q: Do you have a studio I can come to?
A: No. I prefer for safety reasons not to bring anyone into my creative space. I have equipment that can cause injury if not used correctly. I also like to keep my art space a sanctuary. I enjoy making pieces in a zen-like,serene environment I call Rangrila. I believe studios are for making art and stores/shows/websites are for selling art.
Q: Do you give classes?
A: At this point in time, no. I am busy trying to keep up with the demand for art and balancing that with enjoying life. I also am still learning. Perhaps with more seasoning, I'll consider it, but not for a long while.
Q: Do you do custom work?
A: At this time, NO! That is a firm NO. In the past sometimes I do. It depends on what is requested and the time involved. During the holiday season or heavy art show season, that is difficult. I do not want to make promises I cannot keep. I also do need sleep at times. So, though it is always tempting to say yes. I usually give careful thought to what I can do and when I can do it by. I have clients pay a partial payment up front and the rest upon finishing. This covers materials, time, etc. I also ask clients to please think about what exactly they want. Measurements help. Tape out a mockup.Changing a piece midway or asking for constant changes can be frustrating. Prior Planning Prevents Problems.
Q: Where did you learn to do this?
A: I learned some whitesmithing, also known as cold working metal, from Art Schoenig, aka Obi Art Kenobi. Who learned it while doing graduate studies in Scotland with Armour makers. It involves hammering and shaping the metal. I have not had any art classes other than the kindergarten kind with finger paints. I just love to dabble. My education background and degrees are in healthcare, psychology, and physics. While working fulltime helping patients, I did coursework in materials science, mechanical engineering, psychology, and physics. I had to study the crystalline structure of metals, yank them apart, study polymers, study alot of things,alot. I love science and love to experiment. I also saw so many people going through so many difficult life trials in healthcare. Learning alot about positive imagery, cognitive therapies, and warm fuzzies doing my psychology degree helped me help others. I scored high in altruism on the Myers Briggs ;) I also love art. It gave me inner peace and balanced me. Art helped me work my creative side that loves to craft and tinker. Hammering is relaxing after doing lots of equations. It balances. So I looked for a way to bring harmony in my life by meshing all I learned....and am still learning. Hidden Dragon Art was created to help Arthur and I to do what we love..
Q: Why 'Hidden Dragon' ?
A: Hidden Dragon was chosen as the name because it is a concept I ran across studying asian philosophy. The Hidden Dragon is about the creative force, ch'ien, deep inside all of us. It can mean many things. Overall, it seemed right. So, we chose it. Though, before the 'Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon' movie came out, you used to be able to google the site easier. ;)
Q: What's up with all the warm fuzzies?
A: A side of me sees the basic psychology of humanity needing positive imagery. That's why my work tends to have concepts and literally words evoking muses of positivity. When you look up on the wall and see the word'Love', it brings the concept love to that moment. If you have a Metal Art Painting that says, 'Fun Is Important' it reminds you to pause and take a moment from work stress, maybe go blow bubbles. The figures I create I call Spirit forms, they are abstract representations of the soul or muses. Some hold up signs saying, 'You are the best', some dance, etc. I want people to smile, to see bright colors, to see something that evokes a feeling of joy. I don't want to make 'eye lighters'. I want to make 'soul lighters'. I use the motto 'Artistry for the Soul' for a reason. I feel that just by warming even a moment of someone's day, it can make that day even better. My home has 'Peace, Hope, and Joy' canisters in the kitchen. They make me feel good when I go make tea. Some knobs in my home say 'Discover', so when you open a drawer, for a moment you feel like a kid wondering what's in store. Love, Peace, Music, Fun....its all important. Its Artistry for the Soul.