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

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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

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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
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‘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
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‘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
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‘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
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‘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
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‘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
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‘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.

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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!

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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!

Brian Fell’s ‘top tips’ for sculptors

(Last modified: June 26th, 2017)

We’re really excited to get our latest competition up and running. One of you budding sculptors will win a place on Brian Fell and Owen Cunningham’s ‘Midsummer Metal’ course over at Yorkshire Sculpture Park.

Sculptor Brian Fell working with metal

All you have to do is get your creativity flowing and show us your latest and greatest work. To give you some inspiration for your entry we dropped in on Brian to get his ‘top tips’ for sculpting a masterpiece:

Inspiration  

Take a look back into the history of sculpture. There are a limitless number of styles and subject matters from different eras. Find one that means something to you and start there.

Equipment

The best place to work is an industrial premises that has a lot of space and light. It’s good to get the help of qualified technicians to help choose good quality equipment. At the very least you’ll need a vice, hammers, drills and an angle grinder. If you can afford it, invest in a bench shear for cutting sheet metal and an arc welder. You might also want to think about getting yourself a plasma cutter, a MIG/TIG welder and oxyacetylene equipment, but these can be a little pricey.

Techniques

There are tons of amazing books on sculpting techniques, along with engineering books which can be really useful. There are also plenty of videos on YouTube if that’s how you prefer to learn. The best way I find to learn new sculpting techniques is practice – that’s what ‘Midsummer Metal’ is all about.

Draw

Doodle, draw and sketch out your ideas. Pen and paper are your best friends. After you’ve got a design you’re happy with, try making prototypes – wire, rod and even matchsticks are great. I personally use scissors, card and glue.

Health and safety

Last but definitely not least, make sure you stay safe in the studio. The bare minimum you’ll need to properly protect yourself are leather gloves (not rubber), toe protectors, goggles and earplugs.

That’s about it. Drink tea. Have fun. It’s only art.

Get involved in the competition here.

Calling all sculpture students!

(Last modified: June 26th, 2017)

Are you a student who knows their alloys from their aluminium and their block scraper from their bush pick? Do you love discovering materials, learning new techniques and designing weird and wonderful sculptures? If you’re nodding along then we want to hear from you.

We’ve teamed up with Yorkshire Sculpture Park and artists Brian Fell and Owen Cunningham to give one lucky student a chance to win a free place on their workshop, Midsummer Metal, usually costing £270 per person.

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Brian Fell is known for creating amazing large scale sculptures in metal like the ‘Ha Ha’ bridge – specially developed for YSP. While Owen has worked with steel for over 20 years creating memorable pieces on display at the Ironbridge Museum and Telford.

The two-day course gives you the opportunity to get creative in a sculptor’s wonderland. You’ll have access to every tool you can think of and all the metal you could need, along with demonstrations, direction and advice from Brian and Owen.

All you have to do to win the prize is show us photos of your sculptures. It could be your latest masterpiece, a sculpture you’re particularly proud of, or your designs for future pieces. Maybe the one you’ll make at Brian’s workshop? Once you’ve got your entry photos ready, submit them here.

Entries are open now and the winner will be announced on June 1st. You have to be a student and over 18 to enter.

Good luck!

Our top 10 metal sculptures in the world

(Last modified: August 2nd, 2017)

To celebrate our partnership with Yorkshire Sculpture Park and sculptor Brian Fell – and our passion for metal – we’ve taken a look at some of the best metal sculptures from around the globe. Here are our personal favourites.

The Kelpies

One for the horse lovers. Standing at an impressive 30 metres high, these horses were created by sculptor Andy Scott, and are found just outside Falkirk in Scotland. Weighing in at over 300 tonnes, each sculpture is made up of thousands of individually crafted pieces of stainless steel. A fitting tribute to the role that horses played in the industry of the area.

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The Knotted Gun

Created by Swedish artist Carl Fredrik Reuterswärd, ‘Non-Violence’ (commonly known as ‘The Knotted Gun’) was donated to the United Nations in 1988 as a symbol of peace. There are at least 16 other similar sculptures dotted around the world, but for its significance, this is our favourite.

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Angel of the North

Standing proud on the outskirts of Newcastle, the Angel of the North is both imposing and iconic. Designed by sculptor Anthony Gormley, this steel angel took four years to build and was inspired by three themes; to serve as a reminder to the coal miners who worked in the area; to mark the shift from an industrial age to an information age; and to act as a beacon of hope.

The Angel of the north

Cloud Gate

Sculpture Anish Kapoor likes to think big. Cloud Gate – often referred to as ‘The Bean’ given its shape – weighs 100 tonnes and is made up of 168 steel plates welded together. And because it’s highly-polished, it gives off a fascinating distorted reflection of the surroundings.

Visitors to Millennium Park in Chicago can also enjoy a complete view of the artwork, both from outside and underneath, thanks to a 3.7 metre high arch at the front of the sculpture.

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Mercedez-Benz at Goodwood Festival of Speed

Every year, artist Gerry Judah is commissioned to create a car-themed sculpture to celebrate the Goodwood Festival of Speed in Sussex, England. Our favourite piece from 2014 was sponsored by Mercedez-Benz and stood at 26 metres high and 90 metres long. This stunning 160 tonnes of flying cars and steel was a sight to behold.

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All Hands

This piece was created by our friend Brian Fell to commemorate and celebrate the manual workers who were employed at Cardiff docks. At two metres high, it now sits at the site where so many worked, and we like it for what it represents about the area and the people who built it.

all hands

Maman

If you have a phobia of spiders this isn’t the one for you. Created by Louise Bourgeois from steel and marble, Maman can be seen in all its 30ft high, 33ft wide glory at the Tate Modern in London. Take a walk around it – and underneath it – to appreciate the sheer scale of what can be created with a lot of metal and a little imagination.

maman

Tommy

It’s hard not to be moved by this tribute to the fallen soldiers of WWI. Created from steel by local artist Ray Lonsdale, this piece appeared on Seaham seafront in County Durham to mark 100 years since the start of the Great War. The solider is reflecting on the horrors he and others like him experienced in battle.

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Planet

Found in the grand surrounding of Chatsworth House in Derbyshire, Planet is a huge bronze and steel sculpture from artist Marc Quinn. Ten metres long and four metres high, and appearing to hover off the ground, the piece is a portrait of Quinn’s own seven-month old son.

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The Unknown Official

One of our absolute favourites, simply because of its quirkiness. This sculpture is found in Reykjavik, Iceland, and celebrates the anonymous job of the bureaucrat. It was created by local artist Magnús Tómasson in 1994.

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See the rest of our blog to find out about our sponsorship of the Yorkshire Sculpture Park and our work with sculptor Brian Fell.

Robot Wars reboots for 2017

(Last modified: June 26th, 2017)

And defending champion Apollo is taking no prisoners!

Roboteers stand by, Robot Wars is back on our televisions this year for an explosive second season. Summer 2016 brought the series back with a bang on BBC 2, and we couldn’t get enough. From Razer to Matilda, the starting line-up of house robots brought a real sense of nostalgia to fans of the 90’s show. Along with a remarkably familiar arena we were on the edge of our seats every time we heard the word ‘activate’.

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After 53 adrenaline-pumping battles over six shows, it came down to Carbide vs. Apollo. Carbide had wreaked havoc in the arena, managing to take out a steel wall and halt play while engineers repaired it. And Apollo had sent the house robots into orbit with its ‘flipper’ on more than one occasion. It was definitely a battle too close to call even for their biggest fans!

After a tense final battle both robots resisted destruction, even with the roaring fire pit and house robots on the war path! It came down to a vote from the judges. It was a unanimous decision and Apollo was crowned the winner.

Team Apollo Win

Team MAD who built Apollo are now back for more robot blood in season two. The team of three who met at a Pontins holiday camp, are all from a non-engineering background and were thrilled to have ‘flipped’ their way to victory. Excited to come back and defend their title, they will be working hard to finesse their 107 kg creation.

With a name taken from a NASA spacecraft and a flipper that ‘launches’ 100kg robots into the air, it’s not surprising that a lot of metal is needed to keep Apollo looking shipshape. Huge fans of the show, we’re proud to sponsor the team and help Team MAD defend their title. We’ll be providing all the metal needed to bring Apollo back from the brink of destruction promised by the fierce battles ahead. Dave Young and his team mates can’t wait to have us on board:

“We are delighted to be working with Metals4U, the metal that they are supplying us will form the build of a new Apollo for the future. Apollo’s strength has always been strong armour and is one thing that helped us win Robot Wars. Metals4U will be helping us make sure that our future project is as strong as ever!”

Make sure you tune into BBC 2 to catch all the action this season!  Plus, keep up with the latest news from camp Apollo and Robot Wars on the Metals4U blog.