From scrap metal to masterpiece

(Last modified: November 7th, 2017)

Where some see waste others see opportunity. This is never more true than with our favourite material… metal! Versatile and tough with attractive colouring, most metals work well to up-cycle for urban art and sculpture.

Here are some of our favourite artists who thought scrap shouldn’t mean skip and created stunning art pieces to awe and inspire.

John Lopez/ T Rex

T Rex made from scrap metal by sculptor John Lopez

This dinosaur is anything but ancient. He’s clubbed together from found metal items as well as real tools used to excavate fossils in the area. Standing tall and proud he’s remarkably life-like. The sculptor invited an expert on the subject to guide his hand creating the perfect posture and even used the second largest T Rex skull ever discovered to model his head on. Take a closer look here: www.johnlopezstudio.com/t-rex/

John Heppenstall/ ReBar Godwit

Sculpture of a bird created by sculptor John Heppenstall

The perfect example of how scrap material some people wouldn’t give a second thought to can turn into something beautiful. This regal looking godwit made from found materials sits alongside Alexandra Dock in the Hull Estuary. You can find out more about the artist’s love of turning scrap into art here: www.greenporthull.co.uk/rebar-godwit-by-jason-heppenstall

Harriet Mead/ Rake Ribbed Caracal

Scukpture of a cat creaed usuing scrap metal by sculptor Harriet Mead

A great way to show how wear and tear doesn’t mean a thing when it comes to art. This majestic feline is built entirely from rusty scrap metal. She’s part of a series of wildlife sculptures all coated in the red orange hue of weather damaged metal. You can see the entire collection here: www.harrietmead.co.uk/exhibitions/

Jason Lane/ Mechanical Rocking Horse

Sculptor Jason Lane riding is scrap metal sculpture

This rocking horse definitely isn’t a step back into childhood for most. This huge metal contraption is made entirely from found materials and includes an engine to make it rock. It’s designed to scale proportionally for adults to experience the same as if a child were to ride a rocking horse. You can see the finished design here: www.jasonlane.org.uk/mechanical-rocking-horse/

Karen Cusolito/ Ecstasy

Karen Cusolitos Ecstasy sculpture in day light and lit up at night

This sculpture is so ornately beautiful, it’s hard to comprehend that it’s made from 9 tonnes of salvaged steel. The artist has managed to balance perfectly the contrast between a feminine, delicate figure and the harsh, heavy metal. You can find out more about her work here: www.mymodernmet.com/karen-cusolito-ecstasy/

Have you made anything from offcuts and scrap? We always love to see our customers work. Show us on Facebook and Twitter.

How to build the ultimate home workshop

(Last modified: October 23rd, 2017)

With winter fast approaching and the weather taking a turn for the worse you may have shelved those summer DIY projects. But now’s the perfect time to clear out that garage or shed full of forgotten junk and make room for a great new home workshop.
A shed converted into a home workshop filled with tools
With a few easy renovations, you’ll be well on the way to getting those half-finished projects done in time for Christmas. Here are our top tips and tricks for creating the perfect workshop space at home:

Create a storage area

Choose a dry area to store any wood, metal and other materials you need. Ideally it should be close to an entrance so you don’t have to carry heavy, bulky materials far.

Leave some elbow room

If you’re a little tight on space but still want to install large tools like a mitre saw or a metal vice, make sure you leave enough room each side to cut longer, larger materials down to size.

Keep it well ventilated

It can be tempting to stack your materials and tools high when you create a workshop. But make sure you leave windows and doors free so you’re well ventilated if you create a lot of dust or use toxic sprays and varnishes.

Work with your space

Built-in furniture is a real space saver, fit your bench to a wall if you don’t have much room. Get plenty of shelving in to house any paints, varnishes and raw materials. Magnetic bars are also a great, compact way to store tools.

Quiet down

Soundproofing your workshop is a must if you don’t want to risk becoming the noisy neighbour or annoying the family. Simple tweaks like installing rubber mats to your floor to dampen the noise of dropped items.

Separate your circuits

In the name of health and safety, it’s best to put your lights on one power circuit and the power tool outlets on a separate circuit. That way if you trip the electrics with a power tool, you don’t also knock out the lights.

We love to see our customers creations. Show us your workshop on Facebook and Twitter!

How to win the war on rust

(Last modified: October 3rd, 2017)

Rust. It’s every metal’s worst nightmare. And with summer gone, now’s the perfect time to think about protecting your metal against whatever Mother Nature throws at it. Luckily, we know a thing or two about metal, so here are some of our top tips.

Know what you’re dealing with

A metal beam covered in bad rust

Firstly, it’s good to know what you’re up against.

Rust is nasty stuff. It’s the result of the reaction between iron, oxygen, water or air moisture. And when you throw salt into the mix, rusting can happen at an even faster rate. You’ve only got to look at the state of properties near the coast – where the spray of salty seawater can play a part – to see this in action.

If metal is exposed to the elements, and left untreated, rust can take hold. And it’s a slippery slope from there, with the metal flaking and disintegrating.

Start with prevention

Like anything in life, it’s easier to prevent rust than deal with it once it’s a problem. The best prevention is to either buy metal that’s already been treated, or to treat it yourself. But even with the best preparation, rusting can still sometimes happen, so regularly inspect any metal objects that are found outside to check for signs.

What to do with rust

A mechanic cleaning rust from a car wheel

If rust has already taken hold, the good news is there are lots of ways to remove it with a little patience and plenty of elbow grease.

Let’s start with the obvious choice. You can pick up specialist rust removal products at all good hardware stores. Typically, you spray this on the rust or put it on a cloth and rub the rust off. These products can be really effective, but because they typically contain phosphoric or oxalic acid, make sure you’re careful using them.

Now, for the fun ideas – and you’ll be amazed what you can use from around the house to remove rust.

Some people swear by white vinegar, which they leave the rusted item soaking in for 24 hours before rinsing. Others prefer salt and lime. This works by sprinkling salt all over the rusted area and then pouring lime (or lemon) juice over the top. After 2-3 hours, scrub the mixture off and see the rust vanish with it.

And if it’s strange you’re after, how about a potato? Cut a potato in half and place the cut end in some washing up liquid or baking powder. Then put the potato on the rusted metal and leave it to soak in. After a few hours the rust should scrub away.

There are even people who recommend using Coca Cola to treat rust. Crazy, but it seems to work.

If you’ve got any tips that we haven’t covered here, let us know on Facebook or Twitter.

Five metal structures that defy gravity

(Last modified: September 25th, 2017)

Back in 1173, a great tower started being built in Italy. Sometime into construction, they found out they’d built on land that was too soft to support the foundation. One side sank into the ground giving it an iconic lean. Today the Leaning Tower of Pisa attracts crowds of thousands and many a funny Instagram shot.

Architects have long realised they can achieve fame and fortune by going beyond brick and mortar to create weird and wonderful designs that mystify the public. Being such a strong, versatile material, metal is usually an important part of supporting new buildings.

Here at Metals4U we love seeing what our material of choice can do. Here’s our top five metal structures that don’t look like they should be standing tall.

CCTV Headquarters

Visible throughout Beijing, this impressive structure stands at a 238m and look as though it could fall at any moment.

CCTV Headquarters building in Bejing

Close to Bone Staircase

This brow furrowing contraption stands off a hill in Flanders, floating above farmland. You can climb up to the top and test out it’s baffling construction for yourself.

Close to Bone Sculpture in Flanders

Norddeutsch Landesbank

Looking like a Jenga tower half way through play, it’s not hard to see why this building made it into our top five.

Norddeutsch Landesbank in Germany

Hypo Alpe-Adria Bank

Reminiscent of the leaning tower of Pisa, but more structurally sound, this impressive glass building stands at an angle of 14 degrees.

Hypo Alpe-Adria Bank in Italy

Suspended, by Menashe Kadishman

This is the true embodiment of ‘gravity defying’, a wonderful piece that only the brave would stand under.

People stood underneath sculpture Suspended by Menashe Kadishman

Have you made any metal structures that look as though they defy the laws of physics? We’d love to see them. Send us a post on Facebook or Twitter.

Can Metallicar ‘pop’ into York’s Top 10?

(Last modified: September 14th, 2017)

Metallicar’s third and final race of the season took place at the Micklegate Soapbox Challenge in York on August Bank Holiday Monday. It was the biggest and most exciting event we’ve raced yet.

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Our cart was given number 48 out of 50, so we had plenty of time to prepare and make a few final tweaks. And it was a good job too. As we got closer to the front of the queue for our first run, our front left tyre decided to blow out.

Luckily, there was a bike shop right across the road, so we quickly dodged the crowds to get a replacement, and repaired the puncture. Phew! But as we edged forward and sat third in line, suddenly, there was another pop from the exact same tyre!

Panic stations again, but we quickly repaired the tyre once more, entered the track, and got in position for our first run of the day. The countdown began, we settled the nerves and flew down the course in a respectable 36 seconds. We were happy with that.

After pushing Metallicar back through the streets of York to our pit, we got the BBQ lit and enjoyed the sun with some chilled beers.

As the second runs of the day began, we could see that teams were pulling out some very quick times. The pressure was on and we were still nervous about a third blow out.

Metallicar was called and we took our position. We had to beat 34.2 seconds.

We burst down the start ramp, picking up speed. It was an exciting, quick start and everyone knew our final time would be close to the top ten. We raced through the finish… but came up just 1.3 seconds short of what we needed. We were done.

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We had a great day and have already been thinking about the improvements we can make for next year. Extra weight and downhill force will surely get us into the top ten. Bring it on!

Our top 10 iconic metal objects from film and TV

(Last modified: August 30th, 2017)

Who knew some of the most iconic films and TV shows ever created feature metal playing a major role? Whatever shape or form, its versatility, engineering and symbolic meaning plays a fundamental part in lots of our favourite films and TV. Here’s our top ten.

Iron Throne

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Take Game of Thrones and its compelling Iron Throne. Forged from 1000 swords, each surrendered to the Aegon in the War of Conquest. Created from the breath of the greatest dragon who melted them together, it’s pretty impressive. But actually, only took 200 swords to craft it in reality.

One Ring

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Also in the realms of fantasy lies the powerful One Ring, crafted by Dark Lord Sauron in Lord of the Rings. Concentrating a part of his soul into the Ring, he bound the magnitude of his own fate to this tiny metal object. If it were damaged or destroyed it would be mirrored in the dilution of his own power and strength. Very dramatic!

Thor’s Hammer

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Again, in a battle of power and strength, the Marvel Comics adventures re-created as heroic movies show how Thor’s Hammer, hides the strength of a cosmic storm called the God Tempest inside. Powerful enough to knock planets off their orbit, God Tempest was trapped in a chunk of Uru and made into Mjölnir, the hammer of Thor.

Back To The Future’s DeLorean

DeLorean

When it comes to time travelling metal, there’s nothing quite like Back To The Future’s famous DeLorean. The super car is the vision of the eccentric genius, Doc Brown with quirky driver, Marty McFly. So why choose the DeLorean DMC-12? Besides looking cool, it has stainless brushed steel body panels. This unique look is pretty sci-fi, fitting perfectly with its ability to project through space and time. So successful, Back To The Future, became the highest grossing movie of 1985.

Sonic Screwdriver

Sonic Screwdriver

Also discovering adventures in other dimensions was The Doctor and the multi-functional metal Sonic Screwdriver. Every Doctor modified the iconic Sonic with early versions adept at picking locks and projecting sound to scramble circuits. More recent versions can scan, electrify the nervous system and defend against weapons. Amazing.

Sword of Gryffindor

Sword of Gryffindor

For pure magic, the silver Sword of Gryffindor from the Harry Potter films wins, hands down. It not only looks majestic with its stunning rubies, it also works against evil…of course. Forged a thousand years ago by the most skilled metalworkers, the goblins, it was made for Godric Gryffindor, one of the founders of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

The Death Star

Death Star

One of our all-time favourites has to be the hunk of metal in space or the DS-1 Orbital Battle Station, the Death Star I. The moon-sized mobile battle station was made by the Galactic Empire, brainchild of Darth Vader. It was designed to fire a single superlaser powerful enough to destroy an entire planet.

Starship Enterprise – Star Trek

Starship Enterprise

This has got to be one of the best known and best loved fictional spacecrafts. Launched in Star Trek, September 8th, 1966 the Starship Enterprise was the main craft. Armed with Phasers and Photon torpedoes it offered up Shields as protection. Inspired by a science fiction cover which caught the eye of Gene Roddenberry and Matt Jefferies, art director of the first Star Trek series.

Mockingjay Pin, The Hunger Games

Mocking Jay

The mockingjay pin begins as a tribute token but soon becomes a symbol of rebellion. As a logo for the films, in a flaming version it also appears on the three book covers and the artist who designed it, Tim O’Brien says, “It is not just a picture of a bird. It is something vulnerable. It is a symbol of the main character, Katniss, who is tough and beautiful at the same time.”

The Neuralyzer from Men in Black

Men in Black

And finally, we mustn’t forget the tiny cigar shaped piece of metal, or Neuralyzer in Men In Black. Designed to wipe memories and plant new ones, it helps New Yorkers remain unaware of crossing paths with aliens and the top-secret agents themselves, The Men In Black. The first film, which was originally adapted from the comic was released in 1997 and sold an estimated 54,616, 700 tickets in the US, grossing over $589.3 million worldwide.

These are just a handful of our favourites. Why not head over to our Facebook or Twitter page and let us know your top picks of metal filled films or TV shows.

Inspiring student sculptors

(Last modified: July 13th, 2017)

Earlier this month Jessica Smith from York St. Johns University was chosen as the worthy winner of our Student Sculptor competition. She took home an invaluable prize – a place on the YSP metal workshop with renowned Sculptor Brian Fell. You can take a look at how she moved her designs on to create a new and exciting piece here.

But it wasn’t an easy decision. Our competition brought a whole host of budding artists out of the woodwork. Here at Metals4U, we were so inspired by the level and quality of entries we had to share some of our favourites with you:

Sharon Thompson
Sharon_Thomson_003
‘My steel sculpture is called “The Lure of Attachment” and is a discarded Mermaids tail. It is a story of transformation, how the lure of attachment, which is represented within the welded metal joins, can entrap us and halt our development.’

 

Hannah Duckworth
Hannah_Duckworth_001
‘My art looks at that most primordial of questions… working with the concepts of religion, redemption, preservation and alchemy I tackle this question. In my most recent work by casting lead into The Bible, a highly symbolic and holy book, I represent two opposing ideas, preservation and destruction of religion.’

 

Sam Copsey
Sam_Copsey_003
‘I am building a large scale insect-like sculpture from found objects and scrap metal, built upon a functioning off road go kart. The twist being that the initial static appearing sculpture comes to life when approached by the viewer.’

 

Deborah Sisk
Deborah_sisk_001
‘I made the sculpture for a nature reserve in the north east of England from nails and wood. Using various types of nails for the feathers I wanted to depict the harsh nature of the metal juxtaposed with the softness of the feathers.’

 

Connor Frederick Lowe
Connor_Fredrick_003
‘I predominately focus on processes of compression, in which I force durable industrial materials such as steel and concrete to behave unpredictably. The stresses between these materials when compressed force them to change in appearance making them look deformed, reflecting my inner personal frustrations with aspects of my life that appear un-controllable.’

 

Megan Louise Ekberg
Megan_Louise_Ekberg_002
‘The genesis of my structure is derived from my interest in architectural art. All buildings as I see them take linear proportions which I first noticed in old classical buildings.’

To see every entry we received head over to our Facebook page.

Metallicar climbs the leader board at Humber Bridge

(Last modified: July 11th, 2017)

After a mishap at Wicksteed Park Derby left us missing a wheel and a front spindle, Metallicar was back in the Metals4U garage, and in need of some TLC.

We were taught some valuable lessons at our first race of the season, mainly the need for strength as well as speed. With tight timings, our engineers took on the challenge of making Metallicar bigger, better and ready for another round.

Humber Bridge Soapbox

Back in action and ready to rock our second Humber Bridge Soapbox Derby, we headed over to Hull on the 1st July. Away on business, our usual front-man Fred had to sit this one out, so the keys were handed over to our resident speed demons Scott and Sam.

We were up early and excited to test out our improved soapbox. The practice run to make sure we were in ship shape started at 8am and, as expected, Metallicar sailed through without a hitch.

Humber Bridge was no exception to the usual parade of weird and wacky homemade buggies. We spotted everything from brightly coloured racing cars and bulky trucks, to a wedge of cheese and a toad in the hole!

Humber Bridge Competition

At 11am it was time for Metallicar to take its place on the start line for our first race. Running smoothly, even over the bumps and obstacles, we finished with a great time of 36.10. Our second run clocked in at 37.65.

Then all that was left to do was to cross our fingers and watch the others race to the finish line for a coveted place in the final five.

We made it! Metallicar had beaten back the competition and made it to the final. A huge crowd formed to cheer the top five on as they lined up for the last time. Our final race round the track saw us clock our fastest time all day- an amazing 34.95.

 

The results were in and we bagged the respectable position of 4th place. We’re all really impressed with the result!

Here’s what Fred had to say: “The Metallicar soapbox is climbing up the leader board. Considering it is our second season we are very happy with 4th place.”

Be sure to check back in with us to find out what else Metallicar gets up to this summer.

Learning from the master with Brian Fell

(Last modified: July 5th, 2017)

Our recent competition to win a place on a masterclass workshop with celebrated sculptor, Brian Fell, proved to be a huge success.

We saw a great response with dozens of fantastic entries, which made Brian’s job a tough one when it came to judging. But one entry stood out above all the others, and that was from our winner, Jessica Alice Smith. Jessica_Smith_1-entry

Brian said of her submission: “Jessica had the strongest application and we felt she would benefit the most from the course”. Here’s her entry that caught Brian’s eye:

My current practice works with themes of balance and fragility; primarily playing with the idea of building up each side of the structure to the pivotal point before it collapses. By doing this I am able to capture the greatest level of tension between the structure and its material.

Though the majority of my work utilises natural and found material, I would love the opportunity to expand this further. The metal workshop would give me the tools needed to push my structures further than ever before, and the opportunity to experiment with heavier, more durable material.
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Her prize was a place on the Midsummer Metal workshop that Brian and fellow sculptor, Owen Cunningham, ran in conjunction with Yorkshire Sculpture Park. Here’s what she said of her experience:

“At the beginning of the course, Brian and Owen ran through all the equipment and showed us how to use each piece. After this, we were shown in groups of three how to weld, including each having a go at welding a straight non-bubbly line.
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“The rest of the course was quite self-led. We were provided with all the materials we needed and were given the opportunity to experiment with any ideas or designs we wanted to pursue.

“Both Brian and Owen were really helpful with any questions, and stepped in to show me in more detail how to use the equipment when I needed it. In particular, I was given an extra demonstration on how to use the plasma cutter. I really enjoyed this tool and used it both to cut layers of metal into mountainous shapes for my landscapes, and also as a drawing tool”.
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Watch this space to see how this star of tomorrow progresses in her work.

To see all the amazing submissions we received as part of our Student sculptor competition head to our Facebook page.

Metallicar gets in a spin at Wicksteed

(Last modified: June 29th, 2017)

The warmer weather has arrived and it’s time for Metallicar to rock and roll into its second Summer of Soapbox derbies. We’ve been tweaking and tinkering for weeks to get our buggy ready to face the speed demons on the tracks. We can’t wait to get back out there.

First stop was the quaint town of Kettering for the Wicksteed Park 2017 Derby! After making a pit stop at a couple of local cocktail bars for some well earned refreshments, we got our heads down before the morning’s festivities.

Stache

Up and out early doors with fake beards on, the final checks on Metallicar got underway for the big race. 40th in line after the kids race, we had a bit of a wait. But at an amazing 28°C, it was shaping up to be the perfect day for a race, and we were happy to watch all the other marvellous creations make their way onto the track.

Kids

From ghost trains, to old school race cars there was a mix of soapboxes that would put Wacky Races to shame! We even spotted a father-son team with a Star Wars themed cart ready to make their galactic debut – definitely one of our favourite soapboxes of the day.

Grave Digger

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Finally it was time to take our place at the starting line. The DJ boomed out some heavy metal to get us ready and raring to go, and the crowd went wild as we launched onto the course. Looks like our emphasis on speed when tweaking the car worked, we sailed towards the finish line in our fastest run ever!

Metallicar

As we screeched to a halt to avoid crashing into the bales of hay, disaster struck. The force of Metallicar’s breaks sheared the front spindle clean off. Then we saw one of our front wheels bounce off down the track, and it all ‘faded to black’!

Our first run saw us take the bronze in the respectable position of third place. But with the state our soapbox was in, it was all over for Metallicar.

IMG_4509We called it a day and headed back to Wetherby with lessons learnt. Mainly how important strength was as well as speed! Keep your eyes on our blog, you haven’t seen the last of Metallicar this summer!