Advent Wreath in hammer-formed brass

by shelbyvision on October 25, 2010

This is something I thought of almost a year ago, and had a rough image of it in my head. I found it very difficult to try to sketch or make a model, so with just a few mathematical calculations I jumped into it, without really knowing how it would turn out. There were times during the process that I wasn’t sure, but I think it came out OK in the end. There are some things I will want to change the next time, if there is a next time. My pictures show some highlights of the process; there are many steps that are not pictured, for the sake of brevity.

In the first six pictures, we see (1) the cutout blanks for the viney flower/candle holders, (2) Starting to form the tube shape with hammer and grooved wood block, (3) closing up the tube form, (4) all the viny flowers silver-soldered, (5) forming the flower from the inside, and (6) from the outside.

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Next is the process of making the little cups that hold the candles. This was a long drawn-out process that took several stages of punching the piece of metal into successively smaller diameter holes, annealing between each step. The pictures (7-8) show the first and last of those steps, and then (9) planishing from the outside. (10) shows the four cups all planished, with the rims ground off so they’re even. (11) shows the rim having been flared out with hammer and steel die, and (12) shows one of the flowers with cup silver-soldered into place.

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Next is a little trick I just discovered recently. It’s a rotary planisher, just a polished steel rod with three very subtle flat spots around the periphery, which makes it act like a tiny hammer when rotating. this compresses the metal at the edge, thickening the edge to give it a more finished appearance.

13 14

Then it all starts to come together. I made a ring out of #6 copper wire, and then silver-soldered the four candle holder viney flowers to it. Next, the wrapping process has begun. After wrapping was completed, I realized that it needed more, so I made four more vines with a leaf at each end, so the twining would fill up the circle more completely, and make a cluster of three leaves at each juncture. The picture shows the flat cutouts, the rest of the process has already been covered.

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Then the finished piece. It’s 5-1/2″ tall, the circle is about 12″, and it’s 15-1/2″ across at the widest point.

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Haley December 4, 2010 at 10:11 pm

Would you ever sell one of these? It is gorgeous!

shelbyvision October 28, 2010 at 7:09 pm

Thanks Vicki.

Vicki Kataja October 26, 2010 at 11:20 pm

Incredible! It’s amazing what can be done with a flat sheet of metal by someone with the skill to do it.

shelbyvision October 26, 2010 at 4:52 pm

Thanks nirmal.
Hi Sam, thanks. That bracelet is one of my wife’s favorites.
Bentiron, yes, mine is very simple, made entirely out of stuff I already had laying around, and very low-tech. I’m just now trying it out. I’ll do a post about it in a couple days or so.

Bentiron October 26, 2010 at 11:57 am

Yes, a winch would be needed! I tried drawing some unannealed last night just to see how it would work and that is tough stuff to move. Then I anneal it and then it was some easier but not as easy as fine silver. I always tend to over think ways to make things, I’m sure yours will be simpler, mine would take a full machine shop to fabricate.

Sam October 26, 2010 at 10:32 am

Steve, your work is amazing, I love it, I enjoy the pieces I got from you last year everyday.
Keep at it, your friend,

shelbyvision October 25, 2010 at 4:54 pm

Thanks! We’re on the same page. I tried exactly that, using hard maple, the hardest wood I have handy, and the edges of the brass dig into the wood, enlarging the hole, so the best I can get is a U shape. It also was incredibly difficult to pull it through by hand. So, as we speak, I’m working on a two piece steel die, and a homemade draw bench with a 20:1 winch to do the work. I’ll report on it when it’s done.

Bentiron October 25, 2010 at 1:37 pm

Very nice! I kept wondering as I looked at the process if there couldn’t be an easier way to make the long brass tubes, like a draw plate used to make tubing but then there are the leaves on the end. How about a hinged single hole hard wood draw plate to save time if you had several orders for these wreaths? Or dose brass not do well in a draw plate?

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