Northwest Profiles: Painting With Fire (metal art)

Northwest Profiles: Painting With Fire (metal art)


>>With its boundless
variety of scenic beauty the North American west
has long served as a reliable source of
inspiration for those with a creative soul like this
talented artist from north Idaho an avid outdoorsman, Mike Schneider’s creative
soul is cleverly etched, scorched and welded so
eventually it shines through his extraordinary
art work made from metal. (Mike Schneider) About
four or five years ago, I had retired from the
telephone company, here locally out of the Coeur
d’Alene area. And I was go to build houses. Well of
course the housing industry ah, kind of went
on a slump here and out of boredom one day I went out to
my shop and made a picture, in fact it’s that grizzly
bear. And my oldest daughter, who lives in Portland,
she came home and took a look at that
and she’s artsy herself and she said Dad, you
really need to go downtown and look in the galleries and
see what metal art looks like. And my daughters, ah
which I’ve got three, and my wife, have been my
inspiration ever since.>>As an art medium,
working with raw metal is near the top of
the list in terms of difficulty. Yet, for Mike
Schneider it’s a skill he’s always been
comfortable with. In fact one could argue
it’s in his DNA. (Mike) Well, actually my
grandfather was a blacksmith, and it, metal was always in our
family, and ah the one thing that always intrigued
me was any time that you cut or weld
metal, there is a heat signature left along side of
that. And that heat signature is the colors that I try
to produce in my artwork. I try to use those colors like
a canvas painter uses paint. You know, you can’t
duplicate the colors of the real things all the
time, but I like to try to use the natural
colors that come out of different types of metal
from different kinds of heat, ah, grinding
methods that will reflect the light given directly.
And I think I’m still learning a great deal
every time I do a piece.>>The ability to take a
cold, flat chunk of metal and transform it, using a
variety of tools, into an inviting, colorful, three
dimensional piece of art is a process that requires
the melding of imagination with strong hands and
an eye for detail. (Mike) Well, everything I do
is self-taught, basically, other than what I learned you
know, in school as a kid. But, to begin with
almost all of the metal anymore is recycled metal.
So I start by cleaning everything totally
off with a grinder. And then once I’ve made the
whole thing shiny, I’ll lay it down flat and shine the
light on because you can’t always tell where all the
scratches and blemishes and things in the metal
are. And believe you me, they show up sooner or
later. But once you get it down to where it’s clean,
what I generally do is do the etching on the metal.
I like to put depth and dimension into a flat
piece of metal, with the grinder and grinding
techniques.>>Once Mike has etched out a
suitable background for a piece his next step is to draw
color out from the metal, which means turning
up the heat… (Mike) When I build a piece of
work that’s large, there is no heat treating part of it,
you have to heat treat the whole thing. And, the
metal jumps and crawls all over the place when I’m
doing it and you got to chase the cold spots out
of the metal while you’re doing it so it doesn’t
warp the metal. The torch takes a lot of
practice because a lot of the colors you have to stop
before they appear. So you have to know how hot and
what colors are coming out of that metal and when to stop,
because a piece of steel, turns about four different
colors and there’s varying shades of those colors. Sometimes you learn to live with
the color that comes out, and sometimes you don’t and
it’s got to start over. But the colors are cool.>>Something else that’s cool is the 3d look Mike
try’s to incorporate into many of his art pieces. To
achieve this effect objects, such as trees and
animals, are cut out with a plasma torch, polished
with a grinder and then attached in layers with a
spot welder. (Mike) I like the fact that the
3-dimensional aspect of a lot of the work really
pleases people. It makes them feel like they can
kind of almost step into this piece, and smell the
trees or something.>>Given the demanding
nature of metal Mike knows that once he begins a
piece he must stay on task until it’s complete or at least,
ready to leave the shop. (Mike) When I build a
piece of work, I bring it in the house after I
think it’s to a completion stage and I’ll set it
up on my hearth, so I have to look at this
thing constantly and that’s where I scrutinize them.
And there’s been a few of them that were taken back
to the shop and got totally torn apart. And of
course my biggest critic is probably my wife. Ah,
also my biggest fan. But when we can both sit
and look at a piece, for a week or two, and enjoy it for
that long, that says a lot.>>These days, out in
front of the Schneider home is a tin man. It’s a
novelty piece to be sure but in many ways it also
stands tall as a tribute to Mike Schneider’s
journey from being just a “metal worker” to becoming an
accomplished “metal artist.” (Mike) I try to achieve
creating the most beautiful piece of metal
work that people see. I don’t care if it’s an
abstract or if it’s a conventional piece of
artwork, or whatever it is, I like to try and use that
metal look, the reflectivity of metal and the colors that
I can get out of metal to achieve something that
people have never seen before. And I guess that’s
what the inspiration to keep going is. Ah, I think it’s important for anybody who’s ah,
going to call themselves an artist to do what
you think is right. Ah, I mean it’s quite
obvious when you look at all the different forms of
art, there really is no right and wrong. It’s an
expression of what you do. And if you can do
something to the point where it touches people
than you’re an artist.

35 thoughts on “Northwest Profiles: Painting With Fire (metal art)

  1. É MARAVILHOSO ESSE TRABALHO MUITO LINDO,EU AQUI NO BRASIL ESTOUTENTANDO DESENVOLVER ESSA TECNICA,AS É MUITO DIFICIL,
    PARABENS PARA O ARTISTA.

  2. HELLO, I WOULD LIKE TO GET IN TOUCH WITH MIKE SCHNEIDER Sr, YOU COULD HELP ME, Maybe Mr. MIKE CAN GIVE ME SOME TIPS BRIGHT, I AM IN LOVE WITH THIS ART, HERE IN SANTA CATARINA IN BRAZIL HAS NO COURSE LIKE, PLEASE HELP ME, TO BE HELD MY dREAM, DES NOW THANK YOU FOR YOUR ATTENTION … APOLLO Cardoso.

  3. This man is one of my many heroes. Has inspired me to tears I have found my calling 😉 cheers hooray

  4. nice .iam a lot like you 3d is amazing to me also i do it in a different way please check out stainlesskid44 .i can show you how and learn from you

  5. great work when you heat the steel do you use any chemicals to get your colors thanks

  6. OMG DUDE. RECOMMEND EYE PROTECTION. I like the idea that you're amazing at it but teach kids to protect eyes as ears. glad you are wearing gloves though

  7. Very nice work!! Questions: 1)What brand torch are you using to heat your work?; 2) What kind of steel do you use (e.g. mild steel, stainless etc.); 3)What grit wheels do you typically use with your grinder? Thank you 🙂

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