Category Archives: Exterior Lacquer

Beer, Basketball, and Permalac

Did you ever have a relative that seemed to have an opinion on just about anything?  If so, you’ll be able to relate to this story.  If placing a label on just about everything is a foreign concept, you might enjoy learning about our latest project.  When it comes to a city known for beer and a basketball team, Permalac’s specialized matte finish needed some refinement to meet the architect’s specifications.

When the designer specifies a particular design feature to a building, it is often an opportunity for innovation.  And so it was with the new stadium in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  Because of our speed to market and having on-staff innovation specialists we were able to create an ultra-flat reformulation that met the demands of the project timeline and quality standard.  We therefore were the chosen awardee for the project.

Beer and Basketball

With nicknames like Miltown, Brew City, Milburg, The Mil, and most confusing, Cream City (more on this in a moment), surely there will come a new nickname with the completion of the new stadium for the Milwaukee Bucks.  With its zinc panels encapsulating the structure, there’s no doubt that it will generate yet another moniker worthy of this striking façade. 

As for innovation, we’re not bashful when it comes to competition, nor to creating something unique.

“Permalac has a long history of protecting exterior metals.  For this project, the architects wanted an ultra-flat finish on the metal. Permalac has a matte finish, but they needed more than that.  We tweaked our formulation to adjust the sheen level and arrived at an ultra-flat that did the job.  We competed with a number of other products, but it was our willingness to move quickly and our flexibility that helped us win this project.”

The small section of panels in the photo above is merely for demonstration purposes, but the end of November should complete the entire structure’s exterior. All in all, there will be 317,000 square feet of metal panels covering the exterior.

Permalac’s ultra-flat finish will maintain the patina for decades to come.  However, this design didn’t come to fruition without some resistance. One critic likened the proposed structure to a giant taco.

The zinc touch will come during the summer. Those panels stirred some of the most passionate debate over the design of the arena, with some detractors saying they would give the arena a “Rust Belt” feel. Project designers, however, said the zinc panels can take on the look of wood or leather and will change appearance in varying degrees of light.

A sample of those panels is on display outside in the warren of pre-fab offices on the northeast side of the construction site along the Park East corridor. Up close, the panels have a sturdy, rough feel, with a ruddy bronze hue.

One of the most-asked questions about the project is will the zinc panels change color over time like copper or other metallic building finishes.

Callahan’s answer: Nope. “No noticeable change with age,” he said.

Frankly, I don’t see it, the giant taco that is.  However, to me it looks like a segment of an old, wooden beer barrel.  Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, or so the saying goes.  You decide.  We’re just proud to be part of this $500 million project.  For additional information and more photos of the project, go here.

Oh, getting back to the unusual nickname for Milwaukee; Cream City.  It seems that in the late 1830’s, newly constructed homes and businesses to be built included the local clay found on the western shore of Lake Michigan, which when molded into bricks and fired creates a creamy, golden yellow patina to the bricks.  They became so popular much of the Midwest began using them.  They were more resilient than others of the region, held their color, and were utilized for both private and public projects.  Many of Michigan’s remote lighthouses were constructed with Cream City bricks.

It’s amazing the name didn’t come from my great, great aunt Betsy.

Keywords: Permalac flat finish, Milwaukee Bucks, VM Zinc, zinc panels, wall panels

September Project: Printed Film on Wood

Cradled Birth Wood
Finished design with Permalac top coat

Kathleen sent in this project:

A digital design was printed on film & transferred to a cradled birth wood panel. A top coat of Permalac was applied for longevity & protection. Swarovski crystals were used to accent the design. For exhibits & customer satisfaction the art needs to be archival & have uv protection from the environment.

What Do Joseph Pulitzer, Alexandre Gustave Eiffel, Ronald Reagan, and Lee Iacocca have in Common?

October 2016 – These distinguished gentlemen, and an army of others, each had a hand at one time or another with either the construction or renovation of Lady Liberty.  Different times, different circumstances, but the same outcomes.  Building or maintaining our National Symbol of Freedom.

In just about the entirety of planning, timing is everything.  Did you know that the beacon of hope that greeted immigrants to our great country was once painted? Had Permalac been around back then, maybe we’d have a shining copper Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor. Timing.

In fact, the timing of the original plans wasn’t so good either for Lady Liberty, the Government of France or the United States Government.  The idea of “The Great Colossus”1 began in 1865, and it took ten years for sculptor Frederic Auguste Bartholdi to be commissioned to lead the

project, with the Centennial of the Declaration of Independence as the planned ceremony, 1876.

Excuses, Reasons, Excuses

France and the USA were both under enormous financial strain at the time, and therefore creative means of fund raising became routine on both sides of the Atlantic.  It was agreed the US would be responsible for the location and the construction of the footing, and the French would cover the costs involved in shipping, handling and installation of the finished statue beyond its cost of creation.

In France, lotteries, public fees, entertainment events and other forms of public funding were utilized, while in

the US, theatrical events, art auctions, even prize fights were used, but in both countries, raising money at that time was not easy.

While all this money trouble occupied many citizen’s time, Bartholdi, the sculptor, sought out the assistance of the man that build the Eiffel Tower, Alexandre Gustave Eiffel2, for his insight into strustatue-of-libertyctural integrity.  The estimated delivery of Lady Liberty was slipping due to lack of funding, design concerns, and public opinion.

Joseph Pulitzer,3 through the editorial pages of his newspaper, “The World’, was direct and to the point regarding the lack of keen interest in the project by the American people.  He harshly criticized the wealthy for their withholding of some of their wealth toward this great national project, but he also admonished the middle class for their expectation of the wealthy and well-off handling the entire donation.  Both economic groups begrudgingly contributed towards that effort.Although long past the original plan, the project was finally completed. An excerpt describing the final steps of the installation of Lady Liberty:

“Architect Richard Morris Hunt designed the Statue of Liberty’s granite pedestal in 1884, donating his fee to help fund the Statue.  Financing for the pedestal was completed in August 1885, and pedestal construction was finished in April 1886. The Statue was completed in France in July 1884 and arrived in New York Harbor in June 1885 on board the French frigate “Isere.”

 In transit, the Statue was reduced to 350 individual pieces and packed in 214 crates. The Statue was reassembled on her new pedestal in four months’ time. On October 28, 1886, President Grover Cleveland oversaw the dedication of the Statue of Liberty in front of thousands of spectators. She was a centennial gift ten years late.

What! No Permalac?

Had Permalac been around near the turn of the 19th century into the 20th, Congress would not have appropriated $62,000 to paint her.  The public outcry was rabid.  Newspapers referred to the idea as sacrilegious, while others felt the fact the statue was turning green. Influential politicians pushed for painting the sculpture as a means of protecting the metal’s integrity, but the citizenry would hear none of it.

Had Permalac been around a hundred or so years ago, things would be different. Because the outer shell of the statue is thin, it still would have taken more than 30 million copper pennies to form the complete covering.  The weight of the metal, 3/32 of an inch4 is remarkably thin, but the green patina is actually nature’s protective coating.  Permalac EF could have been used on the exterior, and Permalac Black internally.

Move Time Forward

Bedloe’s Island, where Lady Liberty stands, didn’t have a name change until 1956, when it was changed to Liberty Island.  Both Bedloe’s and Ellis Island’s maintenance had changed hands over the years, from the Lighthouse Board to the D
epartment of War. Lady Liberty is positioned on a pedestal within Fort Wood, which was constructed for the War of 1812.  It later had a transfer of maintenance and management when both Ellis and Bedloe’s Islands were combined under the National Park Service in 1965. It maintains and oversees all aspects of the Islands to this day.
detail-headBy 1982, Lady Liberty was in much need of repairs.  President Ronald Reagan5  appointed the Chairman of the Chrysler Corporation, Lee Iacocca6,  to spearhead the $87 million public/private restoration funding for her upkeep.  The project swelled to more than $233 million, and, although controversy arose, Iacocca did the near impossible at the time.

Image Credit: Copper Development Association

Beacon of Hope

As we are a nation of immigrants, it is surprising how much consternation swirls about immigration today. Liberty Island, along with Ellis Island has welcomed immigrants with a symbol of freedom and hope.

While most immigrants entered the United States through New York Harbor (the most popular destination of steamship companies), others sailed into many ports such as Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore, San Francisco, Savannah, Miami, and New Orleans. The great steamship companies like White Star, Red Star, Cunard and Hamburg-America played a significant role in the history of Ellis Island and immigration in general.

In conclusion

Ask metal artists what they find helps them the most to preserve their art and they’ll probably respond with something like “a metal sculpture’s best friends are Permalac Black and Permalac Clear.  Two great defenders of either patina or decorative preservative. I’m confident that IF Permalac was available when the statue was first constructed, reconstructed upon arrival to the US, and the subsequent renovations that have occurred since.

Keywords: Statue of Liberty, Permalac, Lady Liberty, Permalac EF, patina, metal preservation,

  1. The Great Colossus – Poet Emma Lazarus 1883 –
  3. Alexandre Gustave Eiffel –
  5. Ronald Reagan –
  6. Lee Iacocca –