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Mixed Media Rainbow Trout Wall Sculpture

Zella Bardsley colors her metal fish with an oxygen/acetylene torch to create her mixed media rainbow trout wall sculpture.

Materials and Tools:

sheet steel
sheet copper
angle iron
chain link fence pieces
14 stoneware tiles
glaze and underglazes
black acrylic fabric paint (or grout if desired)
1/4" pressboard
silicone adhesive
caulk gun
steel washers
steel wire
clear acrylic gloss spray paint
gloss black spray paint
sponge, paintbrushes, container with water
terry cloth towel, measuring tape
chop saw with metal cutting blade
plasma torch
oxygen/acetylene torch
hand grinder
MIG welder
electric kiln
welding hood
safety glasses, earmuffs, welding gloves

Step 1


1. Arrange tiles into two groupings, one-unit features six tiles and the other unit features eight tiles. Draw the desired design with a pencil on the tiles.

Step 2

2. Apply desired underglazes to the tiles to create the design in color. To add texture, apply some of the under glaze with a sponge. After allowing the underglazes to dry overnight, apply clear gloss glaze over the top. Fire the tiles in a kiln to cone 05.

Steps 3-4

3. Measure each tile grouping and create an angle iron frame for each grouping. Wearing safety glasses cut the angle iron with a chop saw fitted with a metal cutting blade.

4. Wear a welding hood and safety gloves and weld the angle iron pieces together to form the frames using a MIG welder. Grind the edges on a hand grinder. Then create an angle iron frame large enough to include both smaller frames.

Step 5

5. Working from the back side of the frame, weld the smaller frames into the larger frame in the desired position. Make sure the smaller frames are oriented properly for the tile design.

Step 6

6. Working from the back of the piece, weld two steel washers on each side of the main frame about 3 inches from the top of the piece. A steel wire will be attached later to hang the rainbow trout wall sculpture.

Step 7

7. Cut various fish shapes from the steel and copper sheets with a plasma torch. Cut the fish small enough to fit in the open areas of the inner and outer frame.

Step 8

8. Grind the fish with a hand grinder. Add color to the fish with the oxygen/acetylene torch.

Step 9

9. Position the pieces of chain link fence between the angle iron frames and weld them in place working from the back of the piece.

Steps 10-12

10. Weld the fish on top of the chain link fence piece working from the front of the piece.

11. Create texture on the flat surfaces of the outer frame and sheet metal with the welder.

12. After the piece has cooled, spray the back of the piece with black spray paint and the front with clear gloss spray paint.

Step 13

13. Cut two pieces of thin pressboard to fit into the two inner frames. Glue these in place with clear silicone.

Steps 14-16

14. Arrange the tile groupings into the inner frames. Glue these in place with clear silicone.

15. Fill the gaps between the tiles with black fabric paint or grout.

16. Attach a length of steel wire to the washers on the back for hanging your mixed media rainbow trout wall sculpture. Zella Bardsley spent much of her 20s and 30s as a music and special education teacher. Her husband, a heavy equipment mechanic, was always throwing away tons of scrap metal. Zella felt she could use the scraps for artistic pieces.


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