Tag Archives: fold forming

Wind Chimes!

Last night I finished up something I’d been thinking about since I started noodling around with fold forming last summer.  I have a lot of copper pieces lying around my basement workshop, and I’d been trying to figure out how to put them together into an interesting garden ornament (coupled with a giant blue glass bead I’ve been saving for this purpose.)  Not all the pieces looked good together in the end, and I had to take out a few I really wanted to leave in (perhaps a second, different ornament will be in order, soon), but I’m so, so happy with what I ended up with.

foldformwindchime1Colors in the sun!

foldformwindchime2Mellow in the shade.

The wire is darkened annealed steel, and I made all the links by hand (dirty, dirty hand). Most of the copper pieces were made a month or so ago, in the class that just finished up last week:



I haven’t figured out yet how I’m going to preserve the heat patinas.  Some of these had already been waxed (those small leaves, in particular; I was going to make earrings at first). I don’t think that would hold up to outdoor use, though. Perhaps I’ll clean them all off and spray the whole thing with clear lacquer.  I’m also considering seeing what would happen if I just left it to the elements.

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Copper Solder Test II: Electric Boogaloo

After my unsatisfactory results with copper solder last week, I looked around the internet for some advice.  Turns out a couple people who reviewed Rio Grande’s product had some things to say. (Note: as far as I know, none of the solder I tested came from Rio Grande.) Apparently, the thing to do is make your join, pickle it, polish it up a bit, and then slowly heat it up again to make the copper color happen.  Really?  Had to try it.

Here’s what I had after a little polishing last week. Note the crappy gray color:


And here’s what I have now, since I heated the test pieces up again Monday:


Well! That is much better, especially where the solder is thinnest. I guess there’s hope, although you really should be careful about application. I’ll keep practicing with what I have–I’ve got an entire tube of it, after all.

Of course, you can still just copper plate silver solder. And then throw it in the tumbler to polish it.  Like this!


It’s all waxed to preserve the shiny-shiny, but I’ll be interested to see how long it takes to darken. At that time I think I’ll just polish up the highlights. (Translation: dear God, I do not want to use liver of sulfur in the house again.)

So with that out of the way, and with my reputation as an experimenter sealed, I moved on to something I really want to do for my own satisfaction.  Remember this pendant I made at the end of beginners’ class, nearly a year ago?


I still have the other green aventurine from the two-pack I bought. I’d always hoped I could do the project again someday when I was more experienced and get it right.  Now is that time. Here’s what I have so far:

take2My husband says it looks better already.  I’m not sure, although it only took me two tries to get the bezel soldered down all the way around (this is a bigger piece than I’m used to making, and it’s hard to judge what I need.) I cut and tried to form a piece of square wire to go around the bezel (to be stamped later) but, unfortunately, had cut it just a bit too short. Not to fear: I can always use it for something else. Like a better bail, for instance. So, I’ll keep at this as class time allows. We seem to keep running low on gas at one solder station or the other, so while I’m waiting for a torch, there’s time for . . .

. . . more fold forming! This week’s lesson: hammering steel wire into copper, annealing, and bending into interesting shapes. Of course, I learned this when I was working on my copper suitcase (really gotta finish that someday), but some new possibilities were suggested to me with these basic shapes:

ffandwireI haven’t taken the time to make these dramatic yet, but more shaping and even hammering/texturing along the creases could get interesting.  First, I want to soak these in the vinegar/ammonia/wood solution I still have to get all the oxide off. It’s annoying when that stuff flakes off all over your tools.

I even got around to making another “pillow” pendant.  I thought I could make one just like last week’s, only a little neater, but it ended up quite different.  Fold-forming is like that, full of surprises! I used a smaller dapping punch and made more dimples, which probably counted for a lot. Also, my piece was probably a more perfectly square shape to begin with.  And the heat patina . . . wow! Didn’t see this coming.


Last week’s on left, this week’s on right.

Here’s the back.  The ends of the new one were short enough that I could just hammer them down reasonably neatly and safely.  I bet if I polished it up, the new one would be a great reversible pendant!


One last thing. (Damn, I was busy this week, wasn’t I?) Remember this texture I made with a claw hammer last year and really liked?


I decided that had to be a cuff bracelet, so I cut off a strip of my 20 gauge copper and got to work. After all the hammering, annealing, sanding, and buffing, here’s what I’ve got now:

clawbraceletIt’s still dirty with buffing compound, and has a few rough spots to be finished, but I think it’s working out! I’d planned to roll back the ends to make loops for a heavy square wire clasp (attached on one side, hooked on the other; squeeze to release.) Maybe I’ll leave it as-is . . . although I’d definitely have to take down those uncomfortable ends . . . something to think about!



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Ammonia Blue and Other Small Things

So, last week I mentioned I was trying out a patina recipe to get green on copper.  It involved putting sawdust in a plastic cup and adding a mixture of vinegar and ammonia (1:3 ratio). You bury your piece under the sawdust and let it sit for one hour to one day.  Well, three days later, I gave up because nothing happened (except the heat patina from annealing came off).  My guess is, either the red oak sawdust I used was the wrong kind of wood, or the “janitorial strength” ammonia was either too strong or not strong enough for the ratio. I do know this: fuming a piece over ammonia will get you a blue color very quickly, and this mixture stank of ammonia (I had a cut on my finger that would actually burn every time I took the lid off to check it.) So I used a bit of plastic netting from a bag of onions to suspend this leaf over the mixture, covered it, et voila! Blue. Then I sealed it was spray automotive enamel and now I’m done.


Still wish it was green, though.

I’ll be on the lookout for more recipes.  Meanwhile, I’m still practicing wire wrapping.  This cheap, repro Roman coin (which my husband was going to get rid of!) doesn’t look terribly bad in this picture . . .


. . . but there’s some wonk to the wrapping wires.  I guess pressing them against an uneven coin is going to produce an uneven result (who’d have thought? Ha.) Lesson learned:  I need some dowels in larger sizes than what I have.  Maybe I’ll hunt around the house for some things. Also, next time I try this particular wrap, I’ll bind the sides. I’m not going to finish this piece . . . no, wait.  I’ll save it in case I have a new bail idea and I want to do a practice run first.

And finally, here’s something I fold-formed in class this week:


I didn’t get too into this, because I learned about t-folds and their variations last summer, and I had other projects I wanted to do.  But . . . I learned that if you wrap a dowel in the middle of bit of sheet metal, clamp the ends of the sheet into a vise, remove the dowel, and then gently use a mallet to make a “pillow”, you can decorate said pillow by dimpling it with dapping punches. What you see here is the reverse side, which has a strange, alien-intestine look to it. I was thinking of making a pendant with this–not unlike a bolo tie, with a cord on each side, but maybe I’ll wait and make a better one next week. I just pulled back the edges and wrapped them toward the back to see what it would look like; now that I’ve got an idea, surely I could do better.

And finally, I may have learned something about copper solder that will make it look better!  I’ll try it Monday and post results.

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Fold Forming Madness

Class started Monday!  We learned how to make leaves, and ruffly edges, and a little thing called a Heistad cup.  This involves a lot of clamping, folding, annealing, and whanging.  And earplugs.  Don’t forget the earplugs.  I think the stained glass group in the next room hated our guts that night.

Anyway, here’s what I managed to do with some hardware store copper sheet:




Bunch of cups + chain = neat rain chain.  Just throwing that out there for future reference.

Note the wild colors!  I didn’t do anything special here; this is the flame patina I got after torching (and a little brass brush work to get the scale off). Next week we’ll be doing some patina experiments (and, apparently, some homework involving household chemicals), so we’ll see what else I can do.

Meanwhile, I’m a bit more excited about some wire work I’m doing at home.  I’ve got a project going on from Contemporary Copper Jewelry, just for the shaping and forging practice, which is going well.  I’m also reading up on wire wrapping stones, and I’ve found some ways that are . . . well . . . much better than what my teacher showed us.  Less likely to pinch and scuff, that’s for sure. And I finally managed to order some square and half-round copper wire in appropriate gauges, so I can save my gold-filled for when I’m better at this.


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Fun with Fold Forming

I still didn’t know what I felt like doing Monday afternoon, so I decided to ask about fold forming.  A couple weeks ago, I found an interesting strip of copper in the scrap bin and saved it, because I wanted to know how it was done.  Turns out, it’s pretty easy.  Wind it around a mandrel diagonally, smash it in a vise, anneal it, and unfold it.


Sorry about the silly new-age catalog background.  I mean, it was right there on the table and I thought, why not?

Perhaps I can refine these a bit to make wearable bracelets; perhaps not.  I should have filed the edges first if I was going to do that.  Also, I’ll need to hammer the individual sections with a mallet against something like a dowel to work-harden yet keep the shape. Good practice, either way.

I also played around with making “leaves” (lower left) and T folds.


Leaves are also simple; fold your thin metal in half, whack the edges with a cross-peen, anneal, and open.  (Annealing, by the way, is important and probably has to be done a lot if you’re making something complicated with much folding and unfolding and hammering, because all that makes the metal too hard to work with otherwise.) T folds are just a matter of bending metal in half–but NOT folding–and clamping the ends in a vise. The remaining bump on top can be hammered in various ways; in the upper left, I just whanged it down flat (and then did some other folding and hammering after I annealed and opened it; I don’t remember exactly what).  The lower right involved making a “pillow,” in which you only hammer down the ends of the bump, leaving a, well, pillow.  That can be manipulated various ways; I just did some hammering here and there and, again, did random hammering experiments afterward.  I think these pieces are going to go into a garden ornament soon.  That will also make good use of my giant glass beads.

I checked out a book* on fold forming from the library afterward, and will probably spend the week imitating various techniques with paper.

Two other things I did recently–finished up the pine cone earrings:


and rescued the moonstone from my failed pendant, just to see if I could.  I didn’t even scratch it once!  Here I placed it on top of the silver so you can see what a moonstone would look like without the pitch backing:

????????cloudsandmoonI could sell what’s left for scrap, but I think I will use some of the smaller bits to melt down into little silver balls (easy:  just torch a bit of sterling and a bit of fine silver together over a charcoal block with a round impression in it) and challenge myself to find a use for some of the stamped part.

*Update:  I should have mentioned that if you’re interested in foldforming, Charles Lewton-Brain’s Foldforming is the book to look for. I had the idea that the techniques in it are classic, but for the most part these are contemporary design ideas generated over the past couple decades; in fact quite a few folds were developed by Lewton-Brain and his contemporaries.  Many of the newer jewelry craft books I’ve been seeing have pieces made with these techniques, so if you want to get deeper into them, look no further.

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