What Finish Is Suitable for my Blacksmith Forged Vine Arbour?
I want to protect the steel from rusting but be able to see the texture of the vines I made underneath. What are your suggestions?
Finishes in blacksmithing are always a question. Something like this I would use an automotive paint with an epoxy primer coat. The hard acrylic top coat protects for several years (about 7 in a low salt environment). The metal must be clean sandblasted and a good deal of care has to be used in applying the paint.
The nice thing with this paint (see an automotive supply store for it) is that it comes in almost any color and it is quite durable.
Your next option is to have all the pieces hot dipped galvanized. Then paint over top. The problem with this is that the galvanizing fills in the texture that you have worked so hard to create. It will provide a good long lifespan before rust develops, but is better suited for large scale curves and shaping. Not so much for texturing on bars.
Another product that smiths in the states have had good luck with is called Permalaq (just google it for more info) It is a clear laquer that is sparyed on leaving the natural steel tone and is quite durable. Talk to the manufacturer for details of use, as I have not used it yet.
There is a longer article on the main website about finishes that may be worth reading.
Click on Blacksmithing Articles to see a full list of articles on the site.
Hope this helps