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  • Barry Mason

Painting with fire

Updated: Feb 21, 2021

In conventional gong making, the material grows harder and harder the more that one hammers, and this can lead to brittleness and even cracking if taken to extremes. Brass and bronze alloys are therefore frequently re-heated and slowly cooled in a process called annealing. This returns the metal to its original softer nature.

With titanium this is not possible; heating the metal in fact hardens it! However, when all the cold forging is complete, the stresses in the metal can be partially altered by heating.

This results in an array of beautiful colour on the surface, ranging from a fiery red to a deep blue.

This oxidised surface is also pretty tough and permanent. ( It CAN be scratched, but only by an abrasion that cuts right through the surface which is already very hard. )

This process is controllable to some extent, by using flames of different sizes and temperatures.

Colouring a large gong can take hours, but to see the different hues appear as if by magic feels almost like alchemy.

Working on the smaller sound sculptures and jewellery pieces allows for a lot more freedom of expression.. literally “painting with fire”.

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