Category: Studio Sessions

Cooking more metals…this time with plant material!

So, it’s no secret that I have thing for working with metal these days.  My most recent work are images transferred onto large metal substrates, custom made from heavy duty aluminum foil, distressed in the dishwasher.  A few months ago, I started experimenting with cooking aluminum in a turkey roaster to get an aged look to the plates.  There is some resemblance of control when purposefully distressing aluminum in this fashion…but not always…and it’s that element of chance that makes this process so exciting to me!

Before I worked with items such as cardboard, bubble wrap, plastic stencils and textured fabrics to create one of a kind substrates…and I had some really great results.  But what kind of imagery can you get when using natural plant material?  Will the shapes of leaves be present?  Will the plant material simply disintegrate in the cooking process?  Pictured below is the plant life I cooked up.

No plant life was purposefully cut for this creative experiment!  Most was either picked from yard waste prior to pick up or pruned from my personal plants.



These two plates were sandwiched between a palm frond.  Love the mirrored look!


And here are more of my results from my cooking session with plant material.



And while it’s always interesting to see the results from the cooking process, here’s where the fun really begins…that of matching substrate to image!

Below are several examples visually detailing the process of matching image to substrate.   The individual aged plate is on the left, original image is in the center and the combination of the two are on the left.




The following are final results after transferring image to plates.  These have yet to be enhanced with oil paints…but it won’t be long until they are.  All I know is that I’m ready to do so much more of these!


I found that I really loved working with monotone type images and those with lots of negative space so the aging of the plates come through.  I also was quite drawn to those that became more abstract.  It was quite fun to line up patterns in plate to colors and lines in images…creating a new version of the landscape!


Feel free to contact me if you have any questions.  And as always…thanks for hanging in there!


In the Studio: ‘Cooking Metal’

Most of my work in the past few years has involved a metal substrate for which my images are printed or transferred onto.  In the case of Attempting Utopia, images were dye sublimation printed onto milled aluminum.  In my recent series, Luminiferous: Adventures in Metal, I transferred images onto large metal substrates, custom made from heavy duty aluminum foil, distressed in the dishwasher.  In Attempting Utopia, the finished product is smooth and clean but with Luminiferous the images are textured and appear aged.  But the constant in both series is the essence of light that is present and reflected by the metal itself.  There is a living, breathing quality to the images because they change as you moved around them, which is what compels me to continue working with the material.

No turkeys were cooked in this roaster!


But cooking metals in a turkey roaster with cleaning detergents?  Why not?  The picture above shows the basic equipment and specific cleaning solutions I used to “cook” and distress” the metal plates you will see in this post.



In the slideshow above you can get a sense of how I placed the metal plates into the roaster and then sandwiched a variety of items between the metal plates before adding water, detergent, heat and time.  As you can see I worked with items such as cardboard, bubble wrap, plastic stencils and textured fabrics to create one of a kind substrates.    Some of the metals were roughed up with sandpaper before cooking, while some were left smooth.    In the slideshow below you can see the varied results achieved during this particular cooking session.



Not really knowing how the finished metal will look allows accident and chance to play a role in my work.  It also ends up dictacting the images I choose to transfer onto them.  The areas with negative space are taken up with the texture created, bringing new dimension to the orignial image.


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In the pictures above, I placed the same image (printed onto transfer film) on top of two contrasting metals to see how unique the image could look based on how diverse the metals were distressed.  In the slideshow below you can see the final results of this experiment.  And this my friends, is only the beginning!



I must admit that I did not come up with this idea myself.  I was inspired to try this process after reading “The Last Layer” by artist and innovator Bonny Pierce Lhotka.  Bonny has written several books that demonstrate new methods in digital printmaking that educate, inspire, and encourage her readers to take creative risks!  She has been at the forefront of technology and art since the early 90’s and has even developed her own product line for digital printmaking.   Go to to learn more about her products, and to purchase the book (as well as metal plates for cooking) yourself!


Thank you Bonny…I owe so much to you!