MIG welding is an ideal tool for welded metal sculpture. MIG stands for metal inert gas. Not to be confused with TIG (tungsten inert gas) welding which I'll talk about in A TIG welding post. The M in MIG stands for metal. The metal is stored on a roll usually located in or at the machine power source and is fed through a liner to the mig gun. The MIG gun has a trigger on it which when pulled actuates a small motor with rollers on it that feed the wire through the liner and out the gun nozzle. The trigger simultaneously opens a solenoid that allows the inert gas to flow out the nozzle end where the wire exits and weld takes place.
In MIG welding the emphasis is on the metal wire which has two main functions. One is to feed a continuous supply of filler metal that gets consumed and deposited at the weld in the welding process. Two it carries the current for the electrical spark and amperage to heat and melt the metals together.
The wire feed speed and amperage controls are set in accordance to metal thickness, wire thickness, weld penetration and wire feed speed desired.
With non-flux core welding wire the ground cable is negative and is clamped onto the work piece to be welded on. When the trigger on the welding gun is pulled the wire feeds out and makes contact with the metal. The electrical current wants to be complete but the high amperage and thin wire cause the wire to melt immediately on contact. The electrical current is so strong it even penetrates into the metal. This melting and penetration act to gouge the metal and fill in with the feeding wire causing a weld to be produced bonding the two separate metals as one.
The inert gas has a roll of isolating the weld area from oxygen. If the inert gas was not flowing out of the welding tip the oxygen at the weld area would cause the weld to be contaminated and result in poor weld penetration, air bubbles in the weld and unsightly weld spatter. The Inert gas is one of the crucial components to allow for a smooth and solid weld.
This stainless steel sculpted face has bronze irises and copper hair. The copper was tig welded to the stainless. Both the copper and the stainless steel are sculpted from recycled metals.
David Smith is one of the first sculptors to use welded industrial metals as a sculpture medium.
He has an extensive collection of his sculptures at Storm King Art Center in New York . http://stormking.org/artist/david-smith/
This painted metal wall art sculpture is hand painted with colorful enamel paint. Since 1992 I have been sculpting welded metal figure sculpture. Durring this time i would clean the finished metal sculpture the best i could with wire brushes or sandblasting. I would then apply a good quality clear enamel spraypaint. This protected the metal sculpture from the elements, made it clean to touch and gave it a glossy apearance. It also let the nice natural color of the raw metal show through.
It was'nt untill 1997 that i decided to paint two large outdoor commissioned sculptures. They turned out realy well but i wasnt committed to the process for some reason. I continued to leave my sculpted artworks colorless to keep the integrity of the bare metal look and to not be distracted away fro form with color.
An artist painted canvas that hangs on the wall is one artistic discipline. Sculpture is very different in the sense that the artist is dealing with A volumetric three dimentional object as oposed to a flat surface. Its much more difficult to compose paint on A sculpture than it is to paint a flat painting. I realy needed to study what i was doing sculpturaly and adding paint just threw me off. It was sort of like breaking a hunger fast with a twinkie. It didnt sit right.
This artwork titled "Mystery" was intended right from the start to have a colorful painting on it. I thought about it for a long time and finaly figured out how to make it work.
The nickle plating is a very nice look for a small metal sculpture. It looks similar to the raw polished steel but a little brighter. This piece was plated at a plating company in San Jose California. The piece is chemically cleaned then plated. It has a very clean and chrome-like look.
The main reason i make welded metal sculpture and my art is because it is inspirational. I am fascinated by the idea of making something beautiful that has never been seen before. More-so of creating something that’s very unusual and interesting to look at.
Even though i continue the use of a sculpture material I’m familiar with, i am always challenging my ability to improve. It’s this measurable improvement level that is also inspirational.
Its inspiring to have an idea to make an artwork. I have an idea of what it might look like but until its all finished, I don’t know exactly how it will turn out.
The process is inspiring when I see my vision starting to take form and i feel a sense of control in that its becoming what i want to see. Its a gamble too because sometimes when you spend hours upon hours sculpting a work of art and it may turn out undesirable.
Its really inspiring to Finnish a sculpture. After all the ideas and effort are done i can reflect on how successful the piece is. I get to think about how much I’ve progressed in my skill and what i have learned.
Sharing the artwork with the world and seeing people get inspired from its presence is also very inspiring.
The whole process is inspirational and If i can pass on that inspiration in one way or another i think I’ve made this world a better place to live in.
A blog on my sculpture and sculpting process.