If you rest, you rust

Back in the summer when the Washington humidity was through the roof, practically everything in my studio was turning to rust. It’s one of the main hazards of working with steel. Two of my earliest sculptures are pretty much out of commission now because they’ve rusted. It’s true that most of my sculptures have rusted elements on purpose, either chemically or naturally, but that actually protects them from further damage when done in a controlled way. The DC humidity–fueled rust, on the other hand, is out for destruction. Tools, finished pieces, metal stock all quickly turn to something like this:


And that’s not that bad of an example. The legs of my cutting table rusted enough to produce little mounds of brown powder at their feet. And a piece that I started over a year turned from clean and shiny to strangely discolored and corroded. I’ve been filing it back to health for weeks now to get to where I can apply heat and start brazing it again. It’s a slow process.


My solution to the humidity? A dehumidifier that ran 24/7, extracting gallons of water out of the air per day back when the humidity was 80, 90 percent plus. Now it just sits quietly, registering a much safer number.


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