Mixed Media Wall Sculptures
Learn about a unique type of sculpture that appears to be metal but is actually wood.
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Forsaking his three years of college engineering classes, Tom Belloni found work as a commercial painter early in life, before a job at a boat repair business introduced him to the chemicals that would become so important to his wall sculptures. Over 30 years of experimentation has led to the development of his technique: free-flowing geometric wood blocks, coated in a polyester resin that contains truly mixed media.
At first glance, his pieces seem to be made of metal, an illusion he achieves by mixing pearlescence or atomized metallic particles into the resin. He's also fond of using copper tubing, glass, and even neon accents to heighten his pieces' light play.
Since his wall sculptures take from three days to a week each to complete, Tom is always working on about 20 projects at a time. Each sculpture starts as a freehand drawing — no computers! Once he's happy with the shapes, he cuts them out of wood individually, using pine, MDF hardboard, or plywood. The resin mixture will cause some shrinkage when it hardens, which is why he uses pre-stressed materials.
Each separate piece of wood is then grouted and sanded to smoothness. Next, he mixes the chemical effects he wants into his polyester resin and applies it to the prepared wood. The mixture bonds directly to the wood itself and dries overnight. Usually he gives three or four layers of color to each piece of wood, which is why he works on so many projects at once. Once all the wooden shapes are dry, he secures them to each other with screws from the back.
Zella Bardsley colors her metal fish with an oxygen/acetylene torch to create her mixed media rainbow trout wall sculpture.