Another Water Bird sculpture in Hammer-formed Brass

by shelbyvision on January 2, 2009

A heron of sorts, just finished two days ago. I took some artistic liberties with the form, for instance, no legs. I was more interested in catching the spirit of the bird than in realism. The bird is made of one piece of 16 gage brass made into a highly modified tube form, with the seam in the front, highly visible. I formed the base using repousse (sp?) techniques on pitch, both sides. the sculpture is 8 inches tall.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

David Huang January 13, 2009 at 10:28 am

I agree with Cynthia, this very much reminds me of a technique Betty Helen Longhi taught me during a workshop at her place. This is a fine example of the grace and beauty of form that can be achieved with this technique. (Much better than what I did I might add.)

shelbyvision January 4, 2009 at 9:25 am

Thank you, Cynthia. Spiculum sounds good enough for me. 🙂 I would be happy to send you some pics.
Planishing is done after the seam is soldered, with no wax, pitch, or anything else. I have to get it reasonably smooth before closing the seam, because if there are any deep dents after soldering, then all the surrounding surface will have to be pushed in to that depth to make it smooth. Since all planishing after the form is soldered pushes the metal inward to some degree, the form has to start out a little bit fatter than the intended final form. Part of the secret is the thickness of the metal. I use 16 gage, which works out well for this size. I made some smaller banana-shaped pieces, for another project, that are only about 2″ long. I found that 20 gage brass worked better for that. If I tried larger pieces than what I’m now doing, I suspect I would have to go with thicker metal. At some point, there would be a practical limitation on scale.

Cynthia Eid January 4, 2009 at 1:01 am

Steve, I think that you are making spiculum birds. they are wonderful! Would you please send me high resolution images? I’d love to show them to my co-author, Betty Helen Longhi, and our publisher, Tim McCreight, for consideration for the book on Shell Forming that we are writing.
How are you planishing? are you planishing over steel before closing the seam? or are you closing the seam, and then planishing over wax or pitch?
Thanks for sharing the process images!

Michael Johnson January 3, 2009 at 11:56 am

Sure, that would be great. I would love to see them.

shelbyvision January 3, 2009 at 8:52 am

Thank you for the comments, Michael.
No, the form is not made from a tube, and I don’t have a name for the technique. It started as a flat sheet of brass, cut into just the right shape, then coerced into a 3-dimensional form with hammers, punches and wood dies, and stakes, then bent around 180 degrees from one end to the other (like a tube) so that the outer edges met and could be silver soldered together. I have some pictures of the early stages that might be illuminating. I can post them here if you’d like.

Michael Johnson January 3, 2009 at 2:37 am

The form was made from a tube? That’s amazing. what is the technique called? I would love to know how you did that.

Keep up the beautiful work.

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