May 252009
 

Thanks to my friend Vicki Cook, I’ve discovered fold forming…taking a sheet of metal and making lovely designs by annealing, folding, unfolding, tapping a bit with the hammer…and then starting all over again in another spot.

The results are really cool.  Of course, every piece is completely unique, and the possibilities are endless.  So far, I’ve made a couple of pendants, a pin, and two pairs of earrings.

If you are comfortable with a torch, it’s easy to get started.  Basic instructions are:

  1. Cut a small piece of 30g copper sheet.  About 1 1/2 to 2″ square is a good starting point.
  2. Anneal the copper sheet using a torch.  Wave the hottest part of the flame over the sheet slowly and evenly, watching for the color to change.  I anneal for about 30 seconds.
  3. Let the sheet cool slightly, then pick up with a pliers and quench in cool water.
  4. Here’s where the folding comes in…I use a small vise, placing the sheet in the jaws of the vise and folding to a 90° angle.  Remove the sheet from the vise, and continue to fold it over until both sides are folded against each other.
  5. Using a rawhide or rubber mallet, gently tap the crease until it is tight. (Think about when you crease paper with a fingernail so that you can tear it straight…same concept!)
  6. Open the fold from the back.  You may find it easier to use a thin piece of metal (Vicki suggests using an oyster knife, which I think is brilliant!) to unfold the piece.  I also use a pair of flat nosed nylon jaw pliers to pull the fold apart.
  7. Gently tap the crease and unfolded sheet on either side of the sheet.  You’ll want the fold to continue to be a bit convex, but the sides should flatten out.
  8. Repeat from Step 2, creating a fold in another spot.  Experiment with crossing the folds over each other – you’ll be amazed at the results!

Fold forming is a lot of fun, and after you’ve created a sheet, the possibilities are endless.  Sheets can be punched out with a disc to make circles, cut with a saw, or just drilled and hung from ear wires!

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