Thursday, January 3, 2013

Proof of Concept: Powder Coating

Littered throughout my studio are various pieces that I call my “proof of concept” samples. Often when I go down to the studio to create recklessly, I don’t make something with the intention of creating a perfect, final product. I just want to see if I can get the concept to work.

A few months ago, I took a powder coating class with the fabulous Rachel Shimpcock who travelled up to Danaca Design (she will be returning there on March 30 and 31). I could only stay a few hours of the class but it gave me the basics I needed to start experimenting. My mind was racing the whole drive home and before I even walked through my door I had determined my first challenge.

I wanted to powder coat rods in all different colors and insert them between two sheets of 1/8” thick Faux Bone that had holes drilled on the edge. The fist step was to figure out how to powder coat wire or rods so that they stood up and didn’t have a flat side. Having learned in class that baking silicone is a good fit for powder coating since it can take the heat required and the powders do not stick to them, I started with the baking section at Bed, Bath and Beyond. Immediately I found a silicone steamer, which had a base filled with holes. I cut it apart and screwed another piece of the silicone beneath the holes so the wires would not drop through and it made the perfect rod stand.

After creating 30+ powder coated wires I was so excited I threw two pieces of Faux Bone into a vise and begin drilling using my flexshaft. Of course, I should have used my drill press, but I didn’t. I was just too excited to get some holes in those suckers. They were a mess of crooked holes that occasionally pierced through the sides, but it allowed me to move on. Then, instead of unpacking my heat gun from my last teaching gig, I just shoved the rods into the holes (even using a hammer now and again) and of course, cracked the powder coats at the edges. But I got the pieces put together. Then I heatformed the cuff to see how it would bend with all the rods in it. It worked perfectly and I had a confirmed proof of concept.

 Now I was really excited. I grabbed a fourth cup of coffee and set off to make the final piece! I planned to first dye my Faux Bone solid black. I unpacked my heat gun, set the depth of the drill bit on my drill press, lined up the vise and I was ready to go. One problem. I had been so busy teaching I had completely decimated my stock of Faux Bone. I had no 1/8” thick stock in the studio. Anywhere. And it was 2am so I couldn’t call my friends or drop over to Fusion Beads, which carries Faux Bone. Sigh…it was time to go to bed. But alas, that fourth cup of coffee kicked in and I ended up watching the Real Housewives of some East coast city at the wee hours of the morning. Good grief.

I will get back to this piece as soon as I can and look forward to sharing the result!!


  1. I could feel your excitement and know that feeling of wanting to finish... where is that piece?? I am very curious about the powder coating and can't wait to see your final piece. More!!

  2. Cant wait to see your final piece Melissa.

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  4. Powder coating is a type of coating that is applied as a free flowing, dry powder. The main difference between a convention liquid paint and a powder coating is that the powder coating does not require a solvent to keep the binder and filler parts in a liquid suspension form. The coating is typically applied electrostatic ally and is then curd under heat to allow it to flow and form a skin. And there are some various types the polymer granules are mixed with hardener, pigments and other powder ingredients’ in a mixer, the mixture is heated in an extruder, the extruded mixture is rolled flat cooled and broken into small chips.