HAITIAN METAL ART
This form of Haitian art began in the 1950s, inspired by the artist George Liataud and his work with iron. Though the original work was with iron, with so many discarded 55-gallon steel oil drums from shipping goods to Haiti, there was a plentiful supply of raw material using steel.
The metal art is made in the artist colony of Noeille in the town of Croix-des-Bouquets, just outside Haiti's capital, Port-au-Prince.
The artisans start with designs inspired by nature and culture. From cardboard patterns, they trace their design with chalk on the flattened oil drums. With chisels and hammers, they cut and decorate the metal. Each piece is shaped and smoothed, and on many of the pieces, the artist will chisel their name into the sculpture.
The sculptures are all coated with a varnish, but it is impossible to have a consistent material to know exactly the finish on your piece.
The finish on each metal sculpture is ready for indoor display. If you plan to expose your art to outdoor elements, you will want to spray it with a clear enamel spray, like RustOleum, to keep it protected. Untreated, it will begin to rust. If you prefer the rusty patina, to deter further corrosion, thoroughly spray it with WD-40 penetrating oil and do not wipe the spray.
For both spray treatments, you will likely need to reapply at least once a year.
Haitian Metal Art is great for displaying both indoors and out. The most common question is about proper care of the finish. The steel art pieces have been coated by the artists with a gloss varnish.
Pieces displayed in the outdoor elements will generally not remain glossy and over time will take on a flat patina, and they will eventually rust. Rust is not ugly, but it changes the piece. To deter the corrosion, thoroughly spray it with WD-40® penetrating oil…and do not wipe the spray. You will likely need to reapply once a year.
When a piece becomes scratched or worn, you can apply a light spray of a clear varnish made for metal, in either a gloss or satin finish. You should see the scratches disappear immediately. If you have some rust and you want to remove it, first sand with fine sandpaper and then apply the spray clear enamel.