By April Hann Lanford, Provenance, Inc.
Welded Art Frames: A Distinct Statement in Steel
Rust and oxidation stained industrial ingredients of our world have a seductive beauty. Leached onto the surfaces of concrete or stone of our dwellings, they speak about the presence of concealed steel frames that provide the structure to our homes. This hidden provenance becomes evident wherever we move. Why not bring this structure to the forefront, and make it a distinct statement?
Welded steel frames have become more prominent of our contemporary tastes over the past two decades. The strong and barren character of steel itself adds an interesting industrial contrast to the traditional approach of custom framing one thinks of with finished wood or refined gold frames. Steel frames can come in the infinite profiles, joining styles, and surface treatments to either obscure or add to their industrial appeal.
Steel frame options can be fabricated to emulate traditional engaged profiles to more contemporary back panels and float frames. Steel frames are often used as minimalistic float frames where the actual frame face surface is the actual thickness of the steel edge as in the photo below. The same frame can be reversed, and the back could be featured as the frame’s face. The surface can be finished, painted, incised, drilled or even adorned with hardware to achieve the desired aesthetic.
Welded frames are in the category of closed-corner or finished-corner frames. They are finished after cutting to exact dimensions and joining. Welding is a process of joining together metal segments by applying high heat that melts the base material segments resulting in fusion while cooled down. In addition to melting the substrate, usually there is a filler material introduced that forms a weld pool of molten material within the seam. The overfill in the weld pool creates a weld line that can be left exposed or smoothed. A fillet profile can be concave, flat, or minimally convex.
The finish can be customized depending on the desired presence, or lack of the burnout, rust, or natural oxidation that transforms the steel surface in surprisingly unpredictable patterns. Some surfaces are finished to provide sophisticated pattern and sheen however. Here is just a preview of many possibilities:
Mill scale finish
Mill scale is the flaky surface of hot rolled steel and it is its most raw surface.
Oxidation and rust
Showing off natural patination of the material.
Varying degrees of grinding from fine to rough.
Evenly brushed finish vs. sharp surface finish, brushed etching.
Gloss, satin, matte, raw finishes.
At the end, there are final coatings applied to add colorization or tint if desired, as well to seal the surface to deter oxidation and corrosion.
Below: Examples of frames with grinding patterns done by hand. The patterns vary from frame to frame. Natural traces of impurities in the steel are present.