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  • Flame painting

    Hello: I've been lurking on the list for some time and am posting in hopes of getting some instruction. I've searched the archives of other metal artist forums and haven't found quite what I'm looking for, so please forgive me if this has been repeated at some point in the past as I don't get to read everyday.

    I've finally arrived at the point in my artistry that I'm no longer happy with just painting my plasma cut-outs flat black. I'm looking to step into the world of color and try some experimentation with flame painting. I'm working with .088 hot roll sheet and after cutting out I knock the mill scale off with a flap disc down to bare, shiny steel. Using my brazing tip and working very slowly and patiently I can start to see the bare metal darken into maybe a light brown, and then blue then the blue will turn sort-of a grey-silver color if I overheat it. Buff it back out and go again, so far so good.

    My question is how do I produce the variety of colors I've seen on projects on the list. Golds, yellows, coppers, deep-rich blues and reds. I know some folks use copper sheet and some use stainless, but I'm using mild hot roll carbon steel at this point. Seems I remember seeing something about painting the metal with a borax solution before heating...? Is there a trick to treating the metal that helps bring out the variety of colors? I would truly appreciate any feedback you can give me...I'm really excited to learn this technique. Thank you !!!

    Ronnie Lyons
    Meridian, ID
    [email protected]

  • #2
    Ronnie,

    The only thing I can think of that the Borax is doing is oxidizing the metal quickly and that is where you will possibly get some reds/rust colors.

    With mild steel there ain't much you'll get with the colors, other than what you have seen, by just using the Flame. You can try buffing the steel to a really bright finish and that will affect the color changes but not much. You can try a Mapp or Propane hand held torch also.

    There are patina solutions that are applied Hot or Cold to achieve various colors.

    Ed Conley
    Screaming Broccoli, Inc
    http://www.screamingbroccoli.net/
    MM252
    MM211
    Miller Passport Plus, Spoolmate 100
    TA185
    SO 2020 Bender
    Miller 125c Plasma
    "Hold my beer while I try this!"

    Comment


    • #3
      I don't really know where it comes from, but I have seen all those rainbow colors after grinding too long in one spot. If you overheat the metal with the grinder you can get the different colors, so I would think your could get the same with the flame. I don't know, but sounds like maybe you're getting there and going past it too fast to see it. I've only used mild steel as well and I've gotten all sorts of colors with the grinder.
      Contact me for any metal polishing needs you may have, my avatar is a pic of a standard, painted fire axe that I ground, sanded polished and buffed to a mirror finish.

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      • #4
        Yup, it definitely happens fast
        Ed Conley
        Screaming Broccoli, Inc
        http://www.screamingbroccoli.net/
        MM252
        MM211
        Miller Passport Plus, Spoolmate 100
        TA185
        SO 2020 Bender
        Miller 125c Plasma
        "Hold my beer while I try this!"

        Comment


        • #5
          coloring temps

          I have been experimenting this for a while now but I sill have a lot to learn.

          Yes it does happen fast. You can over heat the steel is less than one second, however when you take the heat away the colors may still be changing for several seconds.

          I have found that an oxidizing flame seems the bring out brighter colors. If possible I like to heat the back of the steel. This way I feel I have a little more margin for error and it still gives me good color.

          When I am looking for uniform color I put the steel in my kitchen oven. I set the temp to 500F and check it often. It only takes 5 to 15 minutes to get good color in sheet metal and but may take one to two hours to color heavier stock.

          It seems that there are a large number of factors that effect the out come of this process, temperture, alloy, surface contamination, amount of oxygen in contact with the surface, contamination in the flame ect.

          But here is a table to get you in the ball park, this is for plain carbon steel all temperatures are in Fahrenheit.

          430 very pale yellow
          440 light yellow
          450 pale straw-yellow
          460 straw-yellow
          470 deep straw-yellow
          480 dark yellow
          490 yellow-brown
          500 brown-yellow
          510 spotted red-brown
          520 brown-purple
          530 light purple
          540 full purple
          550 dark purple
          560 full blue
          570 dark blue
          640 light blue

          This table came form Machinery's Hand Book twenty-first edition.

          Good Luck

          Preacher

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          • #6
            Flame painting

            Thanks guys. Preacher, what is an "oxydizing" flame...is this a flame produced by more acetlyne than oxygen, in other words not properly mixed?

            Comment


            • #7
              The color is caused by a very thin oxide layer that forms when the steel is heated. (edit: the color is due light interference effects, not the inherent color of the steel or the oxides.) It is a function of both temperature and the time held at the temperature. A long exposure at a lower temperature can result in the same color as a short exposure at a higher temperature.

              Here's a nice color chart: http://www.anvilfire.com/FAQs/temper_colors.htm

              An oxidizing flame is one that has an excess of oxygen, not one that just has sufficient oxygen for the fuel gas used (a "neutral" flame).
              Last edited by usmcpop; 10-25-2007, 10:57 AM.
              --- RJL ----------------------------------------------

              Ordinarily I'm insane, but I have lucid moments when I'm merely stupid.
              -------------------------

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              • #8
                That's a flame thats 'sooty', right?
                I NEED MORE COWBELL!!!


                'Red' Powcon 300ST (no torch yet)
                (ok, not really a 'Red'... )
                'Blue' Miller 35 (older than me and runs great), Thunderbolt AC arc (ditto)
                'Craftsman' AC arc (who made this originally?)
                O/A x 2 (both smaller than I'd like)
                14" Milwaukee chopper
                20t HF press (crap, but works)
                Buffalo forge w/ blower
                Alot of pumps!

                "All of us know more than any of us."- TexHand

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Some Creep View Post
                  That's a flame thats 'sooty', right?
                  A sooty flame is carburizing, i.e. an excess of acetylene.
                  Trailblazer 302 * Millermatic 212 * Syncrowave 180SD * X-Treme 12VS Feeder * Spoolmate 3035
                  Thermal Dynamics Cutmaster 52 Plasma * Lincoln 175 MIG

                  Victor Superrange II * Victor Journeyman

                  Hobart HH 125EZ


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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Zrexxer View Post
                    A sooty flame is carburizing, i.e. an excess of acetylene.
                    Ahhhh... gotcha!
                    I NEED MORE COWBELL!!!


                    'Red' Powcon 300ST (no torch yet)
                    (ok, not really a 'Red'... )
                    'Blue' Miller 35 (older than me and runs great), Thunderbolt AC arc (ditto)
                    'Craftsman' AC arc (who made this originally?)
                    O/A x 2 (both smaller than I'd like)
                    14" Milwaukee chopper
                    20t HF press (crap, but works)
                    Buffalo forge w/ blower
                    Alot of pumps!

                    "All of us know more than any of us."- TexHand

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      See Hotfoots many threads on hot linseed oil coatings. He comes up with lots of cool colors using that approach.

                      Larry
                      " Time and hard lessons are one kind of wisdom"

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