Heart on a Stem, Part Two

by shelbyvision on January 18, 2010

Last year I made a brass and copper heart, and posted about it here. I said in my post that it only took two hours to make, but that must have been beginner’s luck, because when I tried that technique again, it was almost impossible to solder, because when heated, the seams tended to open up. So, even though that was an elegant design, I decided if I was going to make more than one, that I would go with something a little less frustrating. This design still takes over two hours to complete, but it’s consistently doable.
The first step is cutting out two hearts one bigger than the other, from 20 gauge sheet. I used a jewelers saw for this. The larger piece has a notch cut out at the point. The larger piece gets clamped to a hardwood form, as in the second picture, then hammered over all around, as in the third picture.

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The next pictures shows the larger heart with a wire bent to the general shape so it fits inside the rim. This is to put a space between the two halves so that the solder won’t flow in and stick the two together anywhere but the seam. The wire is stainless steel, so it won’t get soldered to the brass. Next, the smaller heart, which just fits inside the rim of the larger one, is put in place, and the rim is hammered over all the way around, forming a gap-free seam. Notice in the middle picture the 1/16″ dia. rod inserted at the point of the heart. After the seam is hammered shut, this rod is replaced with a short piece of 1/16″ OD brass tube. The next picture shows the seam having been silver-soldered; notice the tiny tube at the point.

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That tiny tube is for inflating the heart with compressed air. In the first of these three pictures, the heart has already been partially inflated, and it is being creased down the center with a wooden block. If this is not done, the metal will buckle in a random and aesthetically unpleasing way. The next picture shows the heart being inflated the rest of the way, using a special custom-made filler attachment. Next, the stem. a 1/8″ brass rod which has been drilled on the end, is shown being flared with a punch, so it will fit the point of the heart. The filler tube fits inside the hole in the end of the stem.

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The next picture shows the stem fit to the heart, ready to silver-solder. Then the finished piece, all done. This one is all brass. After I was done with this one, I made three more, one all copper, one brass and copper and one copper and brass. The last picture shows all four. I am offering them for sale on my Etsy shop.

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

shelbyvision January 31, 2010 at 3:32 pm

Thanks Kevin. I do work wit brass, but just new brass, and I work to make it look old! I have no experience with restoring old brass, and no experience with anything of such gigantic scale. Maybe someone who restores monumental sculpture could help. You could check out the forums on sculpture.org, or metalartistforum.com.

kevin Pugh January 31, 2010 at 2:21 pm

Steve-
Enjoyed your site. I see you work with brass. We have a solid brass wall, 48′ long, 9′ high, with reflective bevelled glass insert panels in the sections. It has been in storage and is heavily oxidized. We would like to clean it and lacquer/polyurethane it to use in our new store. Using abrasive compounds and air wheels is very messy. Do you have any ideas of how to remove the oxidation, then polish and coat? Thank you-Kevin

shelbyvision January 18, 2010 at 5:12 pm

Thanks Frannie, Jason. Yes, the stainless steel wire stays sandwiched inside. I don’t know if there’s anything new out there in the way of solder stop, but the kind I’m familiar with rubs off really easily, and with all the hammering to close up the seam, I wouldn’t count on it still being where it was most needed.

jason January 18, 2010 at 3:57 pm

Nice production set up.

Is the steel wire still inside? Could it be done with a solder stop instead, or would it not work as well?

Jason

Frannie January 18, 2010 at 9:21 am

I love the idea of showing your work on your blog and it would be a great idea to link to your blog from your Etsy shop.
Your work is simply beautiful. Of course, I am fond of hearts.
Kindly,
Frannie

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