You could literally write a book on metals and metal finishings. There are that many combinations and looks to show and describe. Attempting to describe them all, including the more recent high-tech finishes, would be too much to explain here. So, we'll just talk about the high-tech ones that produce some fascinating results.
Hammered any-metal is a fascinating enough finish. Always decorative, always eye-catching, hammered metals invite your touch along with your visual senses. However, when you hammer bright, shiny copper, it becomes impossible to avoid touching it, even though you really should not. Touching copper causes it to oxidize faster as the oils in your fingertips work their way into the metal. Still, hammered copper is something you must see.
Powder-Coated Wrought Iron
Wrought iron is a work of art in its own right, since it has to be constantly reheated, shaped, hammered and then repeat. When you use a powder coating finish, you add texture and/or color as well, so that the wrought iron appears to be something other than what it is. The powder coating process can be speckled, streaked, splattered, or dipped and rubbed off before being permanently adhered to the wrought iron piece.
Reheated and Quick-Cooled Steel
When stainless steel is heated to a really high temperature, it takes on a bluish or rainbow stain effect. Metal artists have found that heating the steel to a really high temp and then quick-cooling it produces a permanent rainbow or blue-edged rainbow effect. In pots and pans for cooking, this may be undesirable, but in decorative metals, it is a popular and hotly-desired metal finish.
Yes, you can chrome aluminum. It is a cheaper alternative to applying chrome to steel, and produces about the same ultra-shiny effect. The chromed aluminum is also easier to cut when you need to fit the piece to something else; you will not need a blowtorch to cut the aluminum as you would with the chromed steel. A metal snips is sufficient.
Got Some Ideas of Your Own?
The possibilities for metals and metal finishing are nearly endless. If you have some ideas of your own, and you want to know if a metal smith can recreate them, just ask. If nothing less, you will get a valuable education in the fine art of metal smithing and metal finishes. If something more, you could hire the smith to create all of your ideas for you.
For more information, contact companies like Powder Coatings of Utah.