Foldforming is one of the easiest metalsmithing techniques. Basically, you take a piece of metal, fold it then unfold it. Sounds easy, huh? Well, it is. But making it more complicated makes it more stunning.
I use copper. It’ cheap, so you don’t need to worry about mistakes. And it’s readily available. It torches easily. And best of all-I’ve never been able to melt it!
Start with a piece of sheet metal. The gauge of the metal tells you how thick it is. THE HIGHER THE NUMBER THE THINNER THE SHEET. I like 22 gauge. It’s easy to fold but is stiff enough to hold it’s shape.
Next you have to worry about how hard the metal is. Sheet metal that you buy is probably ok to work with. If the metal is too hard to work with, I’ll address that later.
Fold the metal into a sharp crease. You can hammer it, put it in a vise or use any method you can think of to sharpen it the crease.
Then you unfold it. You might have to use a blade to start the opening and a hammer to get it more open.
Now for the softening part (annealing) I mentioned earlier. Just torch it until it turn cherry red. You can use a torch you can buy from Home Depot or a cream brûlée torch.
Don’t be scared. Just be careful. Tie your hair back, roll up your sleeves, remove anything flammable that is nearby and put the metal on something that won’t be hurt with the flame. A ceramic tile works, a cookie sheet works or a jewelry soldering brick works. I use the metal forms from the George Foreman grill that I never use. (Does anyone still make waffles from scratch?)
If you still are unsure how long to torch, use a Sharpie. Just mark up your piece and start torching. The Sharpie marks disappear when the copper is the right temperature. And like I said, I’ve never known copper to melt.
Let the metal cool and them you can open it. You can repeat the whole process as many times as you want or just quit here.
This piece has been folded four or five times.
You can color the sections or just leave them torch patinaed.
Easy as you want. Now you’re a metalsmith.