Steel Manzanita Tree

Thursday, November 6, 2014


Polishing Chrome or Steel with Aluminum Foil and Water

My husband and I have been in the metal business for a combined 30 years now but I still constantly learn new things.  Typically we use caustic chemicals to remove rust and such but this would be a non-toxic method to consider. 

I first heard about removing rust from chrome with aluminum foil watching the American Restoration show this weekend.  It is good to note that this method will also remove rust from steel, though obviously, raw steel will not polish to the degree of chrome plating.  

Basically, you use a piece of aluminum foil crumpled up, dip it in water and then with a little bit of elbow grease, the chrome is polished out into a nice shine. 

To summarize:  When heat is created by the friction of rubbing the aluminum on the chrome and rusted area, the aluminum oxidizes, creating aluminum oxide.  First, the oxidation process of the aluminum changes the properties of the rust on the chrome, breaking it down.  Second, the aluminum oxide mixed with the water produces a fine metal polishing compound paste that smooths and polishes the chrome. 

Since the rust is actually getting broken down, thereby making removal easier and the aluminum is softer than the chrome so you don't get the scratches that you would by having to more aggressively scrub with steel wool or other similar abrasives.  As you are creating a liquid polish, this will also help get down into dings and divots to dissolve the rust.  The edges created by the crumpled piece of aluminum will also help smooth out the pits or divots to a degree.  

Other tips:

Use more water for more shine.
Once you have gotten some initial shine with the first piece of aluminum, wipe off this first batch of paste and finish with a clean piece of aluminum and water. 

Tuesday, November 4, 2014


Last December I decided to jump on an opportunity to support the making of a film about the founder of the Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary, Dayton Hyde.  There were looking for artists to submit photos of work that would possibly be included in the film credits or other promotions of the film.  Unfortunately the film has not come into fruition as there were not able to raise the funds necessary.  However, it did give me an opportunity to raise the bar for myself by starting of the largest sculptures I have made to date.  I decided I would do a full scale horse sculpture that would be the size of the average Mustang which is typically around 14'2 hands high or about 56 inches at the wither.

I spent some months studying horse anatomy and movement as well as various images online of the mustangs and their make up and expressions.  So far, its been an interesting lesson in horse anatomy and movement, proportions, large scale steel construction as well as a math lesson.

My other muse in all of this is my old Quarter Horse, Jes.  I had saved a set of his horse shoes to mount on the hooves of the sculpture so a piece of him would always be part of this project.  I was looking forward to getting a photo of Jesse with the completed sculpture but unfortunately, my Jesse passed away in February of last year just as I was getting started in the sculpture.  I am forever grateful to have gotten a pair of his shoes just before I started the hooves and I saved a piece of his mane to be included in this somehow.  Because of that, I will say I lost a bit of my momentum on this piece and actually haven't gone back to working on it until this month.  He was part of my life for 27 years.  Its been sad without my big red horse but with this sculpture, I will always have a piece of him to see every day and that makes it all the more special to me.

Jester Beau aka Jesse 04/01/1986-02/25/2014

I am ready to get back to work on this.  Now, with no specific deadlines, I can take my time and really think this through.  I started this by building the hooves first and working my way up.  I actually have a good part of the skeletal structure started but I think I need to take this time to regroup and maybe do some more sketches and really think about how I am going to complete it.  It will be a welded sculpture, so it will be a combination of fully welded sections as well as some sections of sheet metal for filler over the larger more open sections.  The head will be the last piece constructed. I have always taken pride in the realistic work I have done in the past and hold myself in the highest of standards on this one.

I have been making some changes in my professional life of late and my excitement in this and my art work in general is renewed.  I am really glad I started it - now I am looking forward to taking it to completion. I know Jesse's soul will always be part of it - it will be a much more meaningful piece to me because of that.

I will still continue to take progress photos and will post a link to the photo album below.  Feel free to follow along - with Jesse's help, I look forward to the possibility of this completed piece opening some doors for me with respect to my art and the direction of my career going forward.