Making a Lily Cross, hammer-formed brass

by shelbyvision on November 9, 2009

I posted pics of one of these before, here,  but this time (this one is #5), I took pictures while I made it so I can show how it was made. The first five pictures show (1) The three blanks, cut out and annealed, (2) pushing the metal into a groove to start the tube shape, (3) forming the top part, (4) hammering the tube closed, (5) the three parts, seams silver-soldered, and pickled, ready for the next stage.


Next we have the process of twisting the three elements into one. The metal is very soft from the heat of soldering, so it twists pretty easily. It’s thick enough metal (16 gauge) so that crimping or kinking is not an issue. After it’s twisted together, it has to be soldered, just enough to make it solid; two small spots of solder on the back is all that’s required.


Now the flower petals are given their graceful form, then we see the almost completed piece, with the bottom ends marked for cutting, and then the hanger attached to the back. Some final planishing smooths out the surface before buffing.


The finished piece, hanging on a wall. It’s about 13″ tall.

lily cross

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

shelbyvision November 11, 2009 at 4:28 pm

Thanks Vicki. The only book I have on the subject is “Form Emphasis for Metalsmiths” by Heikki Seppa, which has a lot of basic information, might be helpful. I make my own stakes, and when I’m trying to do something that I don’t have the right shaped stake for, I make one. It takes some experience to know what is needed.

Vicki Kataja November 11, 2009 at 1:32 am

Beautiful piece, Steve. Could you recommend a good book that shows what stakes are used for what shape?

Thanks, Vicki

shelbyvision November 10, 2009 at 11:33 am

Thanks, Jerry.
I kept track of the time spent just working on the piece, and it added up to 11 hours.
The bendability factor of a tube is directly related to its wall thickness and diameter. There’s probably a mathematical formula for this somewhere. I just know from experience what will work and what won’t. My guess with your silver tubing is that the walls were too thin. Filling thin wall tubing with pitch is pretty effective to prevent collapse.

Jerry Fowler November 10, 2009 at 11:05 am

This is a nice piece. About how many hours does it take to make this? I have tried twisting silver tube in threes before and they collapsed, maybe I torqued them to tight, do you fill your tubes with sand or wax before twisting?

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