Workshop Wednesday: Freehand metal forming
In today's tutorial, Houston Makerspace jewelry shop assistant Arianna is going to teach us the basics of freehand metal forming, a technique she used to start this hypnotizing art piece.
This technique allows for a lot of creative freedom - you will essentially be constructing your own metal forming tool with an object of your choice (in this example, a thin-edged hammer) clamped into a bench vice.
The shape of the object will determine the shape you'll be imprinting into your metal. You'll be using this object to create a ridge of raised metal through the piece you are working on - you are in control of how straight or curved this ridge will be based on how you position your metal over your DIY forming tool.
To get things started, position your metal piece over the hammer edge and strike to either side of the hammer edge with a hammer of your choice. You aren't striking the metal directly onto your forming tool - instead, you are aiming for area just to the outside of the hammer's edge.
Note that the hammer you select will effect the texture of your final piece.
Striking the metal on both sides of your forming tool will essentially bend the metal around it, creating a raised ridge in the metal.
Move your piece of metal along the forming tool, striking to either side each time you adjust, to continue the raised ridge along your piece.
When the ridge is as long as you'd like it, you can use a mallet (we used rubber, rawhide would work, too) to flatten out the sides along the ridge. Hammer against a flat, steel surface.
This will make your ridge seem all the more dramatic and give the piece a more finished look.
This technique can used to create all sorts of jewelry and other metal pieces. The dramatic spiral in the piece at the beginning of this post was started using this technique.
Itching to get started in the HMS jewelry shop on your own projects? We have an orientation and certification class this Saturday, August 30th at 10 AM that will clear you to use our amazing work space. Sign up here!
Arianna Morales is one of Houston Makerspace's jewelry shop assistant. She is a Studio Art Student that enjoys sculpture and and has a passion for metal forming. She will be leading an introduction and orientation workshop in the Houston Makerspace Jewelry Shop in September, stay tuned!