Sunday, July 10


I love industrial. I love steel, copper and chrome and ADORE aluminum!

And offering my customers industrial is not a small thing to me. You will almost NEVER find a simple old green or beige powder-coated typewriter stand in one of my booths (although they do make great plant stands for your patio). That's because my space is limited and frankly I know that the good stuff means hard-worn patina, unusual colors and great design too! So when I offer you industrial, it's a serious piece I looked hard to find.

A few times a year I find specific types of rust patterns and this year I thought I'd try to capture some of them-- as well as share a few insights about cleaning and preserving these pieces-- before they sell!

So far this year my favorite piece (available in the Melrose Market) is a 48" x 36" handmade cubby with 12, 1 sq. foot cubby holes. It appears the maker used medium weight steel shelving and standards and cut the shelves, drilled the cross areas (except the top) and simply bolted it all together. She additionally added a power strip of about 6 outlets to the upper back edge (which I have not had the courage to test!). By far it's the most sturdy and usefully sized cubbies I've seen.

In the above image you can see the dramatic rust streaks off the shelf holes running almost perpendicular to the shelf wall. This is a pattern you ONLY get if the piece was on its side and outdoors for at least several seasons in bad weather. Rain or snow collected in the holes and then dripping with the pull of gravity, repeatedly stained the metal as it degraded.

In the picture above you can see how dense the rust is. If it were thicker, I would have treated it with my favorite prep recipe.*
This process exposes new colors and creates a smooth surface to either oil (which I do with Howard's Feed N Wax) or seal, with an acrylic sealer. You can use the prep recipe on any well-rusted piece but beware-- once the rust is gone you will be exposing what's left of the unpainted metal!

A final note: ALWAYS oil your metal pieces. Like wood, metal dries out. Applying a very thin coat of a fine furnish oil (NOT WAX) will ensure your metals' colors (and 'grain') will be deep and lustrous!

*RUST PREP & FINISH RECIPE: using a 2 or 3 grade steel wool, rub off the loose rust with white vinegar. Completely wash off the vinegar with soap and water. Then using a 4 grade steel wool just smooth the rust down to the surface without removing completely. Rinse loose particles again. Sometimes there will be a light or white residue that seems impossible to remove. It can be done, again with soap and water. I temporarily seal metal with Armor All Protectant wipes. Personally, I never seal the industrial pieces I sell. Different sealers have different effects so I leave that to the buyer, but generally you can use any acrylic sealer-- even floor finishes like Mop n Glo (for a fragranced outcome)!

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