Monday, November 18, 2013

Inspired by Tulips; the Exploration of Creating a 3D Shape in Metal

Keirsten Giles has once again written up a fantastic blog post about her studio adventures and explorations. Hopefully you are as inspired as I am by the peek into her journey of creating a tulip shape in metal. Make sure you click on the link about coins and hammer embossing. You will love it. 



I love metal beads and other three-dimensional metal shapes; unfortunately it is difficult to find such ready-made items in a finish that matches my own metalwork, and I don’t do any casting, or work with metal clay so I can’t easily make my own. I decided to try achieving a 3D shape with simple cuts and curves. My inspiration was tulip blossoms:

Photo by John O’Neill courtesy Wikipedia (

I just love this shape.

I used a tulip-shaped vintage brass beadcap for a starting point, picturing it spread flat in my mind (I still thought I might use it so I didn’t want to actually smash it flat).

From Calliope’s Attic on Etsy

I sketched out a couple of large shapes that I thought might work, with four petals.

Tulip shapes Keirsten Giles

I eventually bit the bullet and just smashed the beadcap I had, thinking, “Well, I’m going to make a bunch of these from copper, so what do I really need it for?”

Smashed bead cap Tulip shapes Keirsten Giles

I scanned it, and then made several different sizes on the computer and printed them onto card stock to make templates from:

tulip scanned template Keirsten Giles
the actual template is included at the bottom of this post for you to save and use

Then using my new templates I cut out several sizes from various gauges of copper sheet—22 gauge for the very large ones, and 24 and 26 gauge for the smaller ones. I etched the 22- and 24-gauge shapes, and embossed the 26-gauge sheets with coins and a hammer . I punched center holes with my Beadsmith hole punch pliers, and then annealed all the textured shapes to make them easier to work with. Just for fun I made holes in the edges of the petals on one pair.

Tulip shapes in copper Keirsten Giles

I began by using my doming set to produce slightly cupped shapes on the petals.

Doming copper tulip shapes Keirsten Giles

Doming copper tulip shapes Keirsten Giles

Then I domed the center of each shape, first resting the doming punch in the center of the shape and pressing the petals against the ball with my fingers, and then hammering the punch gently into the cap.

Doming copper tulip shapes Keirsten Giles

Doming copper tulip shapes Keirsten Giles

Et voila!

Completed copper 3d tulip shapes Keirsten Giles

Completed copper 3d tulip shapes Keirsten Giles

I’ve used one of the small embossed pair for earrings, with clear quartz:

Earrings by Keirsten Giles Lune Artisan Jewelry

I made the largest ones from 22 gauge sheet. These required a little more man-handling—I had to curve the edges of the petals inward a bit with my pliers.

copper tulip shape 3d Keirsten Giles

The large ones may be part of necklaces eventually, and maybe I will use a pair of the larger ones for a lariat. I have to say I preferred the three-petal bud to the four-petal. I may rework the four-petaled ones a little bit to give them a rounder shape. All in all, it was fun!

copper tulip shape 3d Keirsten Giles

-Keirsten Giles
Lune Artisan Jewelry on Facebook


If you would like to experiment with your own tulip shapes, Keirsten is very generously sharing her template with you. First, click it to open the image, then right click to save it to your computer. Print it out, and use it. Make sure you share your results!


  1. Whoa, fantastic. How generous you are to share your technique. I'm not sure I could have figured it out totally on my own and it's such a great design. Very impressed! ( or should I say I'm embossed in this case?)

  2. Oh my goodness!!!!!!! I love them! I would love to see what I could do with those and seeds! I love when artists are inspired!!!!!!

  3. You amaze me with the ideas you think up. these are wonderful! Thanks for sharing. :o)
    PS. did you get the beads I sent?

  4. Rocked it again!!! Keirsten, what a fabulous creator you are! Your tulip bead/cap is awesome. Thank you for sharing your work and how too's!
    Diane Moore

  5. I love everything you do - and this is no exception! You are so kind to share! Those earrings are awesome! Thank you!

  6. WOW - what an incredible idea and execution. I am new to following you and can already see that you are a real talent!

  7. Love the results, and seeing your process was fascinating. Thank you for sharing!

  8. Fantastic tutorial! I love your little tulip caps!

  9. As always very inspiring. Must try this soon.

  10. Amazing! Thank you for sharing.

  11. Really interesting to see how you make these lovely flowers!

  12. Do generous...thank you for sharing


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