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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Inspiration, Metal and a little Fold Forming Picture Tutorial

by Staci Louise Smith

It is spring in the studio and lots of things are going on.  I am prepping for new shows this spring......which is always fun for me.  I also have work in the Spring show at Bethlehem House Gallery- a contemporary art gallery in the heart of Bethlehem, who has featured my work on and off for the last couple years.

While at the opening of the Spring show,   I fell in love with the work of Dominick Naccarato.  
You can view his work for sale on the galleries website

His work is industrial.  It looks worn and old....and of course, that spoke to me.  I mean, :swoon:....its dreamy to girl who loves to destroy metal!  I grew up in a home who a mom and brother who love to go antiquing.  so, old things, in art, its bringing together a couple loves of mine

I do hope you will take a minute to follow the links and check out the gallery site and his personal website as well.  His work is amazing.

Anyhow, there was that, which of course, made me long to play with metal again right away.  I am always inspired fresh and new after a trip to the gallery.

I have always loved the process of disintegration.  It fascinates me, the way nature breaks down organic and inorganic matter over time.  Rust, fungus, all these sort of things always grab my attention and draw me in.  I love how the sea changes things as well, takes rough bright things and washes the color away and smooths them.  Worn, old things were once new things, full of life.  And as they decompose, they lose one life, yet take on another.  This process is just amazing, and watching the beauty of this process is endlessly inspiring to me.  

That is why, I love taking white polymer clay, and turning it into something that looks like you pulls it out of nature.  Or taking bright copper sheet, and making it look as if it had been out in the elements for decades.


Then I ended up at a Clover Market with my mom for the day.  I am doing that show in May and June, and wanted to check out the lay of the land, the crowd, and all that good stuff.  
The show is full of antique vendors, mixed in with artisans.  It is such a cool show!  I love that you can buy rusty old stuff next to handmade items!

I picked up some rusty old keys to use for something some day!  For now they are laying on my work table.

I did not take any pictures at Clover Market, but here is their facebook banner, and it is good picture of some of the unique items you can find there.

My mom loves old tin ceiling tiles, and there was a vendor there who had a booth full!

The vendor was Olde Good Things

And here is a picture of the tiles from his website

The textures of the metal tiles had me newly inspired as I browsed through them.  Each so different.  I loved the washed out old paint added to them.............everything about them was amazing.

In checking out the vibe of the market, I thought, I need to have more metal.  I have gotten away from all that copper in my work because of time constraints the last couple years.  I have been so focused on polymer it hasn't left a lot of play time.

So I got to work.  I decided to have fun and cut out lots of copper shapes to make fun, fold formed, patina earrings for Clover Market and the gallery.  And man, let me tell you, I am so happy I did.  I really missed playing around with fire, metal and chemicals!

I loved texturing them, and definitely felt the influence of those wall tiles coming through as I hammered in little raised spots and such.

Here are the components before I started making them into jewelry.

And here are just some of the earrings I made.

I had so much fun!  I really missed working with the metal and patina.  Though I also forgot how labor intensive it is.  Thank goodness I love what I do!

Do you also find that what you see and places you go inspire you go in a different direction, or revisit an old one?  Tell me about it.............

And, as promised, a little picture tutorial on fold forming.  If you want more information, there are lots of great online classes you can take!  But, if you have already played a bit with metal and a torch, this may be all you need to try it out!

Cut some shapes in copper sheet, I used 26g since they are going to be for earrings.  This keeps it light, but you can use any gauge.  File the edges smooth.

Line them up on a solder block, and use your torch to heat them until they glow red, and then quench right away

Once they are quenched, dry them off a little bit.  The process of heating and then quickly cooling them,  anneals them and now they are softer and easier to manipulate

Fold it over at a place where you want a fold line

Use a chasing hammer to flatten at the seam

Torch them again to soften them.  It is important to do this between each step to keep the metal malleable.  Otherwise it could break.


Now you can open it up.  If you need to, you can slip a razor blade in the fold to open it enough to grab.  Place it on your steel block and hammer again.  You can add other hammered designs, or use hole punches to make divets and such.  Use a hole punch or drill to make your holes as well.

Here is a close up of some finished pieces with patina and all on them!

I hope you will try it out, because let me tell you, fold forming is FUN!!!!!


  1. Beautiful earrings and great tutorial! Thank you!

  2. Great tutorial and these are awesome pieces. I just my first time ever fold form piece over the weekend and was good up to opening the crease -- glad to see your suggestion on how to do this. These are quite lovely. Love the rusted yellow patinas you got as well.

  3. Beautiful earrings, I must give this a try as it does look like fun.


  4. These are great Staci. I love how even when you change mediums, it is still "you". It's always fun to rediscover something you love to do.


  5. Love Love Love these designs!!!

  6. They turned out totally awesome! Thanks so much for sharing the work by Dominick Naccarato. I've been playing with acrylics and I would love that look! Amazing. I just love crusty rusty old!

  7. Love your creations Staci. I've been meaning to do more metal play and you've inspired me to make that happen. Just need to fix my torch.

  8. These are wonderful, and the tutorial makes it look like so much fun! Dammit I may have to try this, too... another new thing!

  9. Great post Staci! Your components and earrings are to die for! Thanks for the fold forming tips and inspiration. Yesterday I was cleaning up some old square rusty nails to use has hammers to set bezels and fell in love with their texture. The weather worn and pitted surfaces inspired me to try a new texture in my work!

  10. love the patina do you use tim holtz or sweelengent or any other brand

  11. I agree w/Carol, this is a great post. Love the pictures and the info.

  12. I buy direct from Sculpt Nouveau for the patina and the sealer. I use Clear Guard and Smart coat to seal. I like them both, though it requires many coats and lots of drying curing time

  13. Just made my first piece two nights ago after a year away! Labor intense isn't the word I'd use; I felt exhilarated and exhausted! But happy!

  14. Thanks for your generous tutorial. I need the pics. Awesome job. Do you ever use brass sheet?
    Thank you again, Nancy

  15. i haven't used brass sheet, but you can. Brass is harder to work though.

  16. What a great tutorial! I also love those old ceiling tiles. There are several buildings in my hometown with them, and I find it hard to focus on anything else while I'm there. I can definitely see the inspiration the tiles gave you in these earrings. They're just stunning! I especially love the look of the round pieces.