Brass Lilies

by shelbyvision on November 27, 2010

This is a spin-off from the advent wreath, and the lily cross, the first of which I made several years ago. It suddenly occurred to me that I could make lilies just as lilies, and that with some tooling I could make them quickly enough that I could sell them fairly inexpensively, and I have been trying to come up with some inexpensive items to sell. I went with thinner brass than I had used for the other pieces, to keep costs at a minimum, and it turns out 20 gauge is plenty thick enough, especially with my recently discovered edge-thickening technique (see advent wreath), which gives it extra strength. One of the time-saving tools I used for this project is my homemade draw bench and two-piece drawing die.

The first picture shows nine blanks ready to form. Second, the ends have been shaped into tubes so they can be started in the draw die. The next picture shows the drawing process completed; it stops when it reaches the point where it starts to get wider. The fourth picture shows the die opened up so the piece can be removed. Then, all nine pieces drawn through the die.

01 02 03 04 05

The next step is to close up the flower part of it.

06 07

The other huge time-saver is this wooden die that I made to form the flower. The piece is put into it, then a couple different conical punches are used to force the metal into the right form. Then a couple different size hammers complete the form.

08 09 10 11

After it’s taken out of the die, it gets cut to length, and a little hammering from the outside is required to correct any irregularities, then the edge of the flower is thickened with the rotary planishing tool. Another really big time saver: no soldering. I realized that since the stem was not going to get bent, there is no need to solder the seam; it’s not about to come apart. They are then given a bath, scrubbed with a scotch-brite pad, then a patina with liver of sulfur, and finally polished up with fine steel wool. The final pictures shows ten lilies (I added in the first one I did before starting these nine), and some leaves that I made using the die I made a few years ago, and the new draw bench, which makes the job infinitely easier.


{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

shelbyvision November 29, 2010 at 1:27 pm

Thanks Kerri. Interesting marketing ideas. I can’t do a workshop in my workshop – way too small, but if someone wanted to offer a space for it, it’s a possibility. The die is symmetrical, that is, the cavity on top is identical to the bottom.

Kerri Duncan November 29, 2010 at 10:32 am

Steve- I second the workshop idea- I have been making copper lillies and roses for awhile and you are in prime time (pre-January) to hit up a few resturants and florists for BOTH Valentines day and Easter… Guys pay a premium for a rose/lily to be laid on the table when they arrive for V-day (and the added bennie is the metal roses dont wilt!) and the churches I have met with put out lillies for Easter and Mothers day “In Memory” of the mothers in the church purchased by the families… Good fund-raiser for them… BUT- I love the workshop idea… and would definitely be interested in attending one! Love the draw-bench- is the top-bar of the plate notched or is it a flat surface? Thanks again- love your work!

shelbyvision November 29, 2010 at 9:39 am

No, not for stakes. I might like to try it for dies instead of wood, and a hammer, that would maybe be as forceful as steel but not leave marks.

Jason November 29, 2010 at 12:43 am

Have you tried delrin (or any similar plastic) for making stakes?

shelbyvision November 28, 2010 at 9:15 am

Thanks Beth. I’ve never done any workshops, but if someone wants to make the right offer…
Thanks Nayna. The wood is sugar maple, which I think is the hardest native North American wood, not to be confused with other maples, which are all much softer. The harder the wood, the better.
Mike, no, I don’t stack them. It would waste way too much brass. My brass comes in 12″x24″ sheets, and with careful layout I can get 11 lilies from one sheet. If I cut and stacked and cut, I could get only four from the same sheet. I’m sure there are all kinds of options I could consider if they were in great demand, but as of right now, the demand is zero.

mike edwards November 28, 2010 at 1:08 am

Do you cut them out one at a time or do you stack the sheets of brass to cut multiple blanks out at once? If you do stack cut them do you use double stick carpet tape between the metal sheets to attach them to each other , glue, or possibly a rivet? Hav eyou considered making large rt shearing dies for production?
thanks in advance .

Nayna Shriyan November 27, 2010 at 11:17 pm

Beautiful Lilies ! Really admire the way you create your own dies, If I may ask what kind of wood do you use ? I would love to take a workshop with you especially for the die making . 🙂

Beth Wicker November 27, 2010 at 8:39 pm

Sigh… I love your work! Want to take a workshop with you lol!!!

shelbyvision November 27, 2010 at 5:23 pm

Yes Bent, it does save a lot of time. Now the biggest time-guzzler is cutting them out, which I do with a band saw, and then smooth on a belt sander.
I have no idea how they are liable to do, now or at Easter. I haven’t sold any yet. Only time will tell.

Bentiron November 27, 2010 at 3:39 pm

Looks like the draw bench is saving you quite a bit of time along with the petal forming die. Let’s see now how long till Easter? Think there’ll be much demand for them then?

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