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Deburring/Finishing

Tailored textures

By Nick Wright

An artist experiments with metal, resulting in refined, custom grind patterns

October 2011 - Art made from metal, whether it’s the modern appeal of stainless steel or the green, time-worn oxide of bronze, is evocative of an artist’s mastery of a craft. The nature of metal art suggests a durable permanence that is rooted in some artists’ ability to apply perfected skills. While Cincinnati-based artist Nicholas Yust has an extensive background in metallurgy, his stunning metal art is born from experimentation.

“Really, none of the artwork has anything to do with what I studied in school,” says Yust, who researched superconductivity and cryogenics for the Air Force while earning a master’s degree in metallurgical engineering. “Artwork is just a completely different field.”

Yust specializes in fabricating metal art with signature grind patterns he designs and achieves by hand. At his fabrication studio and gallery, Nicholas Yust Fine Metal Art, he creates works including free-standing, twisted ribbon-like sculptures. He also fabricates wall panel art and corporate signage made from stainless steel, aluminum, bronze and copper. His art is displayed in spaces at General Electric, Holiday Inn, as well as several restaurants. “In terms of materials, I prefer aluminum,” he says. “It’s more energetic, it’s brighter when it’s ground. Also, when you apply transparent pigment on top of it, because it has a more white color to the metals, it gives off brighter tones.”

While he experiments with stainless steel for its gold undertones, it can be difficult to manipulate with his equipment. “When you’re talking about a 1/8-in.-thick piece of aluminum plate versus stainless steel, the machine requirements to cut or bend those two metals are very different.”

In his 3,500-sq.-ft. shop, he relies on an arsenal of manual and electric tools, such as brakes for bends, shears for straight cuts and slip rolls for conical shapes. The manual, hand-powered tools like nibblers, for example, allow him to cut clean curves. For corporate logos and signs, he uses a CNC engraver when exact aspect ratios are specified. “I have letters that have to be cut out or ground in the metal with a specific font, and to do that, you can’t really do it by hand,” Yust says. “You could, but it wouldn’t be feasible. The engraver allows me to scribe into the surface of the metal, the CNC plasma cutter allows me to cut it out.”

Yust finds high-profile projects that require collaboration with an owner and design firm are most challenging but rewarding. For example, a set of art for an office that would include logos, accents, multiple wall pieces and a larger-scale conference room piece “where we go through the whole process of design, sampling, renderings” enable Yust to incorporate variations tied into a theme.

Textures, seen and unseen
While working at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio, in 2003, Yust found a niche interest in textured metals. “When I say textured, I don’t mean to the naked eye, I mean microscopically,” he notes. During research, Yust worked on developing a static electro-polishing machine designed to remove oxides from copper. He tested it on a fixture “from the 50s or 60s,” but the cosmetics weren’t stellar, he says. He explored other options to improve the appearance.

“I happened to be in our machine shop a couple days before working on something else,” he says. “I noticed there was some sheet aluminum sitting around. I decided to cut some of it, grind it, and attach it to the front to cover up some of these corroded spots on this fixture.”

His experimentation evolved into a hobby, and ultimately, a livelihood. “Everything I’m doing now is on the macroscopic. It’s cosmetic,” Yust notes, emphasizing he developed all of his grinding techniques and coloring through trial and error. Various heavy and light metal grinding methods, coupled with controlled hand movements produce nuanced dimensional patterns like streaks, swirls and layered weaves that, when he mixes metals, pigments and torches to induce coloring, yield Yust’s signature style.

To color and finish his metalwork, Yust invented a proprietary process that applies pigment to ground metal. Essentially, paint goes on dry and is activated with an ultraviolet clear coat, he says. “I’ve made colors that I have not seen anybody do or come close as far as the vibrancy and transparency of the color.” FFJ

Sources

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Company Profiles

AIR FILTRATION

IRONWORKERS

NESTING SOFTWARE

SERVICE CENTERS

Camfil APC - Equipment Trilogy Machinery Inc. Metamation Inc. Admiral Steel
Camfil APC - Replacement Filters

LASER TECHNOLOGY

PLASMA TECHNOLOGY

Alliance Steel
Donaldson Company Inc. AMADA AMERICA, INC. Messer Cutting Systems Inc.

SOFTWARE

BENDING/FOLDING

Mazak Optonics Corp.

PLATE

Enmark Systems Inc.
MetalForming Inc. MC Machinery Systems Inc. Peddinghaus Lantek Systems Inc.
RAS Systems LLC Murata Machinery, USA, Inc.

PLATE & ANGLE ROLLS

SecturaSOFT

BEVELING

TRUMPF Inc. Davi Inc. SigmaTEK Systems LLC
Steelmax Tools LLC

LINEAR POSITION SENSORS

Trilogy Machinery Inc. Striker Systems

COIL PROCESSING

MTS Sensors

PRESS BRAKE TOOLING

STAMPING/PRESSES

Bradbury Group

MATERIAL HANDLING

Mate Precision Tooling AIDA-America Corp.
Burghardt + Schmidt Group EMH Crane Rolleri USA Nidec Press & Automation
Butech Bliss Fehr Warehouse Solutions Inc.

PRESS BRAKES

STEEL

Red Bud Industries UFP Industrial AMADA AMERICA, INC. Alliance Steel
Tishken

MEASUREMENT & QUALITY CONTROL

Automec Inc.

TUBE & PIPE

CONVEYOR SYSTEMS

Advanced Gauging Technologies MC Machinery Systems Inc. BLM Group
Mayfran International

METAL FABRICATION MACHINERY

SafanDarley HGG Profiling Equipment Inc.

DEBURRING/FINISHING

Cincinnati Inc.

PUNCHING

Prudential Stainless & Alloys
ATI Industrial Automation LVD Strippit Hougen Manufacturing

WATERJET

Lissmac Corp. Scotchman Industries Inc.

SAWING

Barton International
Osborn Trilogy Machinery Inc. Behringer Saws Inc. Jet Edge Waterjet Systems
SuperMax Tools

METAL FORMING

Cosen Saws Omax Corp.
Timesavers FAGOR Arrasate USA Inc. DoALL Sawing

WELDING

HYDRAULIC PRESSES

MetalForming Inc. HE&M Saw American Weldquip
Beckwood Press Co.

MICROFINISHING TOOLS

Savage Saws Strong Hand Tools
Triform Titan Tool Supply Inc.

 

T. J. Snow Company

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