Your New Metal Art: Start-to-Finish Process
Only the Highest Quality Materials & Processes
1) Careful selection of materials:
Nicholas began his career as a metallurgical engineer developing airplane parts, so that in combination with over a decade of artistic experimentation and trial and error, he is excessively familiar with all types and grades of metals, and how they react to his bends, grinds, cuts, welds, paints, clear coats, and torches. He most commonly uses aerospace-grade aluminum, copper, steel and bronze in his work. Click to read more about the types of metals used in his art
2) Cutting the proper dimensions:
Most sculptures are cut with industrial shears, while some of the more abstract designs use a hand-held plasma cutter. Nicholas ensures that over 98% of his purchased materials are used in the creation of his sculptures, so in the rare event that there is excess metal from an unusual cut or a damaged panel, he will either come up with new designs to take advantage of the shape or he will cut them up further to make samples of his work to be used by galleries, designers and clients.
3) CNC Routing:
Some of his designs use punched holes, custom lettering/logos, or other precise cuts that require laser, water-jet, or plasma cutting using CNC-routing machines. This is typically done prior to any grind patterns to ensure a clean finish.
4) Applying the grind pattern:
Nicholas uses a variety of air-powered/hand-held grinders for most of his signature patterns. Every sculpture gets brand new pads on the grinder, and each design uses several different textures and sizes of grinding pads. The artist makes so many passes with so much precision required for clean, balanced grind patterns, that a 'used' pad simply cannot produce the same quality or consistency.
5) Coloring processes:
Depending on the sculpture, the metal may remain in the natural metallic color or it may be painted, torched or otherwise treated to bring out the necessary coloring and finish. Nicholas has developed a wide range of coloring techniques, and continually develops and experiments with new procedures.
a) The "hot rod" or candy-painted sculptures use a semi-transparent acrylic painting process, allowing the grind patterns to show through the coloring - so when you see a red wall sculpture with sweeping waves across the surface, it is actually the grind pattern making the wave with a semi-transparent red paint layered over the surface. Nicholas hand-mixes his own paint colors, and paints the metal with an airbrush and/or touch-up gun.
b) The textured, opaque painted designs often times use a palette knife style application to apply various acrylic paints in thick layers to the surface of the metal, creating urban, abstract designs with careful attention to focal points and balance.
c) Another coloring process Nicholas uses is a high-heat torch, reserved for Copper and Stainless Steel panels. Depending on the intensity of the heat and the duration of the torching, different colors will emerge from the metal.
d) One of his newer metal painting techniques is what we have coined the "liquid fusion" process, where he dips metal panels through suspended paints to create a very liquidous, organic finish, with swirling colorful designs that are completely unique every time.
e) Some pieces incorporate stained glass, acrylic, synthetic materials, or other unique painting procedures. As I mentioned, Nicholas is consistently experimenting with new materials, styles, and painting/coloring techniques. It has taken years to develop the processes to effectively paint and color his varied mediums, and his repertoire is constantly expanding.
6) Deburred Edges: All of the edges and corners get beveled and/or rounded. Not only does this make the artwork safer and easier to handle, but it also creates a nice reflective trim around the artwork as the beveled edges create a nice bright reflection.
7) Layering process: Many of Nicholas' wall sculptures have multiple layers, with certain panels being raised off or the surface of larger back-panels. The front panel may be mounted directly to the surface of the back panel with an industrial-strength adhesive, or they may also be raised about an inch off of the surface using a small bracketing system.
8) Clear coat: Most of the sculptures then receive several layers of a protective clear coat designed to safeguard the sculpture from the elements, and from general wear and fading. This is a very expensive application, as Nicholas uses the same clear coat on his metal artwork that Lexus uses on their automobiles. He typically applies 2-4 layers, and each layer can take a few days to bake and dry. There are two finish options: glossy and matte, although most of Nicholas' sculptures receive the glossy finish by default.
9) Signature: The artist will then sign and date the sculpture, typically on a small name plate in the lower right corner.
10) Brackets or Bases: The piece will then be either mounted onto a base (for floor sculptures) - which may be fabricated from stone or built from metal - or it will receive U-shaped mounting brackets and spacers on the back (for wall sculptures.) This is a surprisingly careful task, as the floor sculptures must be properly balanced to eliminate sagging or swaying, and the wall sculptures must have accurately placed brackets for level/consistent hanging.
11) Polished surfaces: At this point the sculpture is carefully polished and prepared for eventual display.
12) Packaging: Finally the sculpture is meticulously padded and packaged for safe transit by our gallery staff. Many of the larger pieces and/or international deliveries require custom-built crates to house the sculptures safely. The quality of packing job will be evident when you open the package for the first time!
13) Shipping: All of our sculptures ship 100% insured, either by UPS, USPS, or one of several Freight Shipping companies. You can see more about how we ship our fine art here.