Why Does the Artist Prefer Aluminum for his Metal Art..?

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Why Does Nicholas Yust Prefer Aluminum..?

by Eric Waddington
This is not an uncommon question, so I felt it would be beneficial to post a recent explanation given to a client debating between aluminum and stainless steel: There tends to be a negative connotation with 'aluminum' as it relates to metal wall art because of the association with aluminum cans, aluminum foil, and other low-grade aluminum products. There is a huge range of quality with any type of metal, and aluminum is no exception. Certain aluminum alloys are so thin and brittle that they can be torn by hand, while others are so sleek and durable that they are used for aircraft and aerospace parts. Nicholas Yust Making Aluminum Art

That being said, Nicholas' decision to use aluminum for the bulk of his metal art is a very calculated one with many reasons to substantiate it. Nicholas has a master's degree in metallurgical engineering and prior to creating artwork he spent years working with aerospace grade metals at the US Air Force and GE Aviation, so he is more familiar with all types of metals than probably any metal artist in the world. He has done (and when appropriate, still does) sculptures in just about every metal imaginable, including various grades of steel, copper, bronze, brass, all kinds of alloys, and of course, aluminum. Aluminum is great for unusual bends and cuts (as you see in much of his work) and will not oxidize or rust as steel and copper do.

In Nicholas' own words from a recent interview: “I prefer aluminum,” he says. “It’s more energetic, it’s brighter when it’s ground. Also when you apply transparent pigment on top of it, because it has a more white color to the metals, it gives off brighter tones.”

Aluminum Wall Art | Behind the Scenes

What Does Nicholas Do to the Aluminum..?
The majority of pieces that you see on ModernAbstractDecor.com are created from a very high quality, indoor/outdoor industrial grade aluminum panel. Here is a quick summary of some of Nicholas Yust's artistic techniques, to give you an idea of how he turns a sheet of industrial metal into a spectacular work of art...

  • Natural silver color: some designs will be a natural silver color with a decorative pattern - the pattern is etched into the surface of the aluminum using a die grinder with various grits, as well as manual sanding, cleaning and polishing techniques.
  • Bright colors: many of the pieces have patterns like the silver designs, but are finished in bright colors - these are actually transparent pigments on the ground aluminum, so you are seeing the patterns in the metal through the colors. Nicholas prefers aluminum over steel for this application because the grind has a bit more bite to it.
  • Opaque/solid colors: some of his abstracts might have opaque paints with a palette knife style, or a dip-painted style finish. These are also aluminum, but without a grind because the solid colored paints would cover it up anyway - so this is a more traditional painting style, like you might see on an abstract canvas.
  • Automotive clear coats: any time Nicholas paints an aluminum panel, he applies an automotive clear coat to make sure the material and colors are protected for indoor and outdoor use. Lucky he grew up with a hot rod buff as a father, because that helped point him in the right direction to customize and treat metallic finishes...

Nicholas Yust is a very well-respected artist and a leader in the metal art industry. His modern aluminum wall art can be found all over the world, from classy restaurants to jazzy night clubs, and from contemporary homes to modern businesses. Students, established artists and craftspeople alike regularly come to him pleading for tips on how to create the grinds and colors that he has mastered. His answer is usually quite humble, and filled with encouragement to get out and test, experiment, and innovate, as he has done obsessively for over a decade...

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