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!