The Metallisation thermal spray process, usually linked with industrial and engineering projects, has enjoyed some unusual success at this year’s RHS Show at Tatton Park. Mike Russell’s ‘Star Gazer’s Retreat’ garden project was awarded the Gold Medal at the show. Mike provides sustainable, bespoke garden and landscape design and build services using recycled and local products on all of his projects.

Mike’s RHS ‘Star Gazer’s Retreat’ design included a stargate, which formed the entrance to the retreat and it was this element that was given the Metallisation treatment. The circular gate was constructed from a steel frame, which was clad using recycled plastic eco-board and then coated with an alloy of zinc and aluminium bronze. The aim was to create a futuristic metallised finish to complement the star gazing theme.

Mike explains: “I wanted the stargate to appear old, but out of this world. I was thinking maybe a piece of a recycled rocket or a sci-fi prop that the star gazer had collected on his travels and wanted to use as the entrance to his observatory garden. In terms of creating it for real it had to be a solid structure, but light enough to transport. The finish I envisaged came from a piece of old water worn metal I had found on a beach, which I took along to Metallisation in the hope they could recreate it using this wonderful process I had heard about.”

The Metallisation Arcspray process can be used to apply many different coatings in a diverse range of applications and industries. In this instance, Mike and the Metallisation team experimented with lots of coatings to identify the most appropriate finish to represent the futuristic vision Mike had for the gate. The team spent many hours experimenting and tried various mixes including copper / aluminium and copper/ zinc and concluded that the most appropriate mix was zinc and aluminium bronze. The gate was initially sprayed with a solid layer of zinc, followed by an incomplete layer of aluminium bronze leaving the zinc exposed to the environment.