Monday, December 7, 2015

Fold forming fun

I don't know about you but I am a member of many Facebook groups, one of them being the Aspiring Metalsmiths page. What I love about this page is the vast knowledge of the members and their willingness to share. One such post I came across recently was a tutorial on how to fold form a leaf by Al Martinez. As soon as I saw it I wanted to give it a try and I thought I would share how I got on! Now I did not do everything exactly how Al explained (everyone knows I can't follow a tutorial) and I did not have all the right tools/skills so a lot of it I 'winged' but if you are interested in learning more I urge you to join the group and search the page for Al Martinez, the tutorial is a post dated 25th October so you may well have to scroll back a while but it is very much worth the effort, his work is amazing!
  • First off I cut my 0.8mm copper sheet (approx 21 gauge?) with a nice heavy duty pair of scissors (you could do this with a saw but it would take much longer and I for one can't saw in a straight line!)
  • Next I hammered the edges and the corners flat to minimise the risk of cutting myself, those edges are really shape so please be careful!
  • using the straight edge of my Anvil/bench peg I bent the metal to a 90 degree angle
  • and then using my hands I bent the metal over 
  • At this point my metal was very stiff so I used my Butane torch to anneal the metal (one thing I found was that I needed to anneal my metal alot more then in the tutorial, I put this down to my rather girly muscles and pitifully light weight hammer)
  • After annealing hammer the metal flat
  • Here is where Al draws his design onto the metal, which I found an utter pain! I can't draw in sharpie and made so many errors it just looked like a scribble, so I drew my design with my trusty Biro onto a sticky address label (or six) and then just stuck that on
  • Then slowly and steadily saw out the leaf and peal off the sticker
  • Hammer to add texture (Al shares a really cool way to hammer the leaf so that it curves) if the leaf gets hard and you want more texture anneal and continue hammering until you are happy with the effect 
  • When you are happy with your hammering (great way to rid your self of stress) Gently prize the leaf open, here I used an old screw driver 
  • Then anneal again to make it easier to open, once cool use the edge of the bench peg to open the leaf further, then place it onto the anvil and gently hammer the seem to flatten the leaf out
  • At this point you can add more texture with your hammer or move different parts of the leaf with your pliers to bend this way or that. Once happy I cleaned up the top of the leaf with some sandpaper and soldered on a heavy jump ring
  • I decided I rather liked the colour of the metal so I just burnished the edges and the fold to add a bit of interest then I sealed it with some wax and added a lamp work bead with a bronze acorn cap by our fantastic Lesley and a silver chain and voila a beautiful necklace....
And these are so many ways that you can adapt this to make a truly individual piece. You could set stones on them, hammer words into them or even cut shapes out....
I hope you have enjoyed this post and if you did go check out Al's you will not be disappointed!


  1. I love the leaf with the lizard on it. I have never cut out an edge and then form folded a leaf; its always been organic, but this technique is interesting as well

  2. Great tutorial, thanks for sharing! I love your necklace and the other ideas too :D

  3. Beautiful job, Niky! I know Al (he lives and works in my town), and he is a wonderful teacher.

  4. Thank you, thank you, Niky! I am adding this to my jewelry bucket list for next year!

  5. Great post Niky. Thanks for sharing. I definitely need to work on my fold forming. Looks like you're good with the saw (the lizard). Do you mind sharing what kind of solder you used?

  6. Fantastic! I need to try this. Thanks for this wonderful tutorial!

  7. Hi how wonderful. I ma hoping that the Aspiring Metal smiths are on G+ as I don't do Facebook for reasons too long ans varied to go in. Can anyone verify if they, or Al Martinez have a G+ presence as I would love to see some more work.
    Thank you for your posts they are the highlight of my week..


We would love to hear what you have to say, please leave a comment.