Betsy was right, I like the butcher's block better when it is all stained and hacked to bits.
I was going to start the 'fussing around with it' by applying Blacken It to the metal, but I was concerned it would blemish the wood in ways I couldn't anticipate. I didn't want to remove the metal pieces because, since I had treated the wood with a coat of oil already, I knew I'd never get new strips to stick. Instead, I rubbed a light coat of olive oil on the piece and baked it in the oven, because the internet told me that would darken the metal.
Yes, I know, stop laughing, I know, I shouldn't listen to the internet....especially since which 'metal' it will darken is not specified and which 'metal' my strips are made of is unknown, but really, what's the worst that could happen, it wouldn't work?
It didn't work....the only result was the break down of the adhesive holding the metal strips on.
I pulled the metal the rest of the way off, gave the sides a quick sanding to remove any sticky residue, then started what I should have to begin with....I experimented with scrap pieces....
Blacken It, my first choice, worked well. Permanent markers didn't wipe off, but the staining was very unnatural looking. Alcohol ink worked great and I liked the effect. Regular black ink didn't stain the metal at all, it wiped right off.
I darkened a strip of metal a bit longer than I needed with blacken it, then dotted it with three colors of alchol ink.
I like the effect shown here, but the blacken it kept working and the metal is much darker now and the ink spots subtle. I still approve of the appearance, but I know next time to let a piece I've blacken cure overnight before I distress it further.
While I was letting the experiments dry I cut away at the bottom of the legs, so they aren't straight blah sticks anymore...
I also make cut marks on the top of the block, treated it with olive oil, then cut some more, oiled, cut, oiled, cut, oiled, cut, oiled....the wood sucked up a lot of olive oil...
Once I was sure the strip was totally dry I cut it into pieces and put metal strips back on the block. I was right that they wouldn't stick, so I nailed them on. 48 pain in the ass little teeny weeny stupid nails....ugh....but I really like how it looks....much, much better than the faux nail holes I pressed into the original strips.
I hadn't oiled anything but the top so the metal strips adhered on the bottom of the legs just fine.
Once the metal was in place I oiled the sides and legs, whacked on a few dings and scratches, and floated some alcohol ink stains over the olive oil. Now I like it...now it looks lived-in...warm and comfy.