Fold forming is a technique for jewelry creation developed principally by Charles Lewton-Brain in the mid 1980’s.
It is a modern procedure and a revolutionary method of metalsmithing. It is based on the concept of using the characteristics of the metal to achieve a form. There are several divisions of fold forming. The specific technique that I use is called rolled fold.
In the rolled fold a sheet of metal is folded one or more times. The folded metal is run through the rolling mill and then unfolded. A rolling mill has two parallel steel cylinders. The top cylinder can be lowered against the bottom cylinder. The metal run through the mill becomes progressively thinner as the distance between the cylinders decreases. The areas with more layers – thicker – will stretch more than thin areas. The resulting form may have some very thin areas but the curved lines that are a result of rolling give structural strength. The rolled fold piece is much stronger that a sheet of metal of the same area and thickness.
The extraordinary volumes produced with the rolled fold method yield striking and visually intriguing forms. The lines are organic and flowing, seemingly repetitive, but never the same. Each piece of jewelry is individually hand crafted. A design can be reproduced but there will be slight variations in the product. This means that no two pieces of jewelry will be identical.
I have fold formed sterling silver, 18K yellow gold and 24K gold. The physical properties of these metals are very different.
18K yellow gold work hardens quickly and must be annealed frequently during the folding, milling and unfolding.