In these difficult times, finding metal for making creative artwork can be a challenging and sometimes expensive endeavor. Foe this reason, I am writing this article in hopes that one may be able to find metals from various sources and be able to price shop as well.The metals I commonly deal with in my line of artwork are steel, stainless steel, copper, and brass. All of these are industrial metals that have several mainstream uses.
Steel is, by far, the cheapest, most widely available, and versatile metals to work with. It is actually cheaper to find a source locally as opposed to online. Most communities of more than 50,000 should have at least 1 discount steel supply house. Frequently, these places will supply other metals like aluminum and stainless steel. Also, you might find they can carry welding and metal working tools and supplies. The two places I frequent have offered to display my art so that is always a nice touch!
Copper and brass are a little more difficult to source because they are more expensive and not as widely used. They may be found in hardware stores in sheet and rod form but be prepared to pay top dollar. A better source will be the place that caters to the roofing contractors. Keep in mind they may require a minimum purchase of copper flashing that could be way more than you need. By far the best deal on the more rare metals is the business and industrial section of eBay and amazon. There are several online metal dealers that sell their stock on these sites to promote their own websites so it is definitely price competitive. In the larger cities, you may find a local metal supplier via craigslist. Developing a relationship with suppliers may help your bargaining situation for special deals.
Alternative sources of metal can be anything salvaged from a dumpster, scrap metal or free appliances offered in online classified ads, or cheaply purchased metal knickknacks from garage and estate sales. You may cut a piece off such as an appliance, cookware, or interior decor. Or you may decide just to repaint or refinished and item to give it your personal touch.
As you may have seen, there are is a long list of sources for metal for making artwork. And lets not forget to consult with your friends and family as well.