Ornamental pieces made from metal can be quite beautiful and eye-catching. They can be small pieces or large pieces, but either way, they always seem to be a conversation starter and can enhance any room. Flowers are a great design to make and when made out of metal such as brass and copper; their colour will stand out, and they don't have to be replaced frequently like real flowers.
- Skill level:
Things you need
- Dapping steel tools
- Metal smithing hammers and irons
- Dremel with polishing heads
- Metal-cutting saw
- Metal files
- Copper and brass metal plates and tubes
- Clamps, tweezers and pinpoint metal tool
- Pickling solution in slow cooker
Draw out the design for the flowers. Make note of which pieces will be in copper or brass. To darken any of the colours, a tarnishing polish can be applied at the end to make a dark green-black colour.
Take a flat piece of either copper or brass and cut out the shape wanted for the flower with the metal-cutting hand saw. Do not cut any close curves, or the blade may break.
Place your cutout piece and trace it onto another piece of metal plate. Then cut it out with the hand saw. Repeat this for all the flowers. The shapes can vary slightly if you want.
Cut a smaller shape similar to the first out of the metal plate with the hand saw. These pieces can be layered on top of the first piece for the flower.
Cut a circle piece out of the plate metal for the middle bud piece of the flower. Cut one circle for each flower.
Take all the cutout pieces over to your hammering area. Use a metal hammer to shape the piece against a steel iron or shaper. The hammer can create a textured design as well as make the petals curve. Shape each piece for the flower petals, trying different hitting techniques for a variety of textures and shapes.
Place the circle cutouts onto a dapping block. Start with the larger circle imprints. Hit the steel dapping piece with the hammer to make the impression onto the metal to turn it into a semicircle shape. Repeat this for each circle.
Make the circles smaller by placing them in smaller circle imprints and continuing to mould them with the dapping tool and hammer until the desired semicircle shape is attained. If there are any extra metal pieces, cut them off with the hand saw.
Use the metal files to file all the edges smooth on all the cutout pieces. Textures can also be created with the file across the surface of the metal.
Place the polishing tool head into the Dremel and tighten it with the wrench tool it comes with. Secure your metal pieces with either a clamp or steadily in your hand. Using pressure, place the Dremel tool against the metal pieces and rotate over the entire piece to give a smooth surface and shine.
Place the petals together to line them up. Do the same with the middle circles. Keep each set of petals together, and take them into your fireproof surface area. Set up your torch, clamps and solder pieces.
Brush flux onto the pieces where they will be soldered. Start with the hard solder for the first connection. Heat up the two pieces that are going to be soldered together until they are both heated evenly and have an almost orange glow.
Place the small pieces of the solder around the joint that will be soldered using a tweezer tool or metal pinpoint tool. Continue to heat the two pieces evenly until the solder melts and connects the two pieces together. Make sure the solder fills all lines and gaps between the two pieces.
Place the piece into the pickling solution in your slow cooker. This will get all the extra flux and debris off from the torch. Inspect the piece to see if any extra solder is still on it or if the area needs to be cleaned up by filing it. Once it is clean, take it back to the torch area to add the second piece.
Use the medium solder for the second piece so it does not undo the solder for the first connection. Repeat the same way as before for placing the solder and having it flow into the seams to connect the two pieces. Place in the pickling solution and clean any residue left.
Cut the copper or brass tubing to size for the stem. Match it up to the flower pieces to determine how it will be connected. If a slant or angle is wanted at connection, cut and then file the tubing until it matches up to the petals.
Take the pieces into the fireproof area with the torch and use the soft solder this time to connect the stem to the petals. Once finished, place in the pickling solution, and then clean off any excess residue.
Take all the final pieces back to the Dremel and repolish their surfaces until the desired shine and texture is achieved. Place the pieces into a vase, on the wall or on shelving for display.
Tips and warnings
- Wear safety glasses when using any tools.
- Play around with different techniques and styles.