Fold Forming Adventure

by loiskmartens on September 19, 2012


A talented young gentleman, about to become a father for the first time, wanted a marvelous gift for his much loved and very gifted wife.  He liked a fold formed pendant called Pure Treasure I.

Pure Treasure I

The central part of the pendant is fold formed pure gold and has four puncture holes through which a fine silver ribbon winds its way from front to back and around the central body.  This is not a small pendant.  It is 1 1/4 in (32 mm) wide and 2 5/8 in (62 mm) high. But he thought that adding a rose gold ribbon that would intertwine with the silver ribbon would add more color and movement and would enrich the pendant.

Note to fold formers:  I take extensive notes for all of the fold formed jewelry that I make so as to be able to produce a similar object on request.  For the original Pure Treasure I pendant I traced around the metal shape before it was fold formed and determined the fold lines, recorded the thickness and weight of the plate and the direction of and number of pulls through the rolling mill.  I re-melted and folded and pulled the pure gold central element of the new pendant three times before arriving to an acceptable equivalent of the original.  Beware that a variation in thickness of the plate of less than 1/10 of a millimeter from the original, upon being folded and pulled, will probably produce a nice form but be considerably different from the original.  Actually any variation whatsoever in the weight, the placement of the folds, the distance between the cylinders of the rolling mill – any difference from the original model will be expanded in the rolling process.

Pure Treasure I Pure Treasure I, original, front


Pure Treasure I, custom order Pure Treasure I, custom order, front


Pure Treasure I, back Pure Treasure I, original, back


Pure Treasure Pendant I Pure Treasure I, custom order, back


The client was right.  The resulting pendant is more intricate (interesting) for color and movement.  Serendipity determined that with this variant the back of the pendant would become as beautiful as the front, so now there is no defined front or back and the pendant can be worn indifferently.




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Fold Forming

by loiskmartens on August 22, 2012

Fold forming is a technique for jewelry creation developed principally by Charles Lewton-Brain in the mid 1980’s.

It is a modern procedure and a revolutionary method of metalsmithing.  It is based on the concept of using the characteristics of the metal to achieve a form.  There are several divisions of fold forming.  The specific technique that I use is called rolled fold.

In the rolled fold a sheet of metal is folded one or more times.  The folded metal is run through the rolling mill and then unfolded.  A rolling mill has two parallel steel cylinders.  The top cylinder can be lowered against the bottom cylinder.  The metal run through the mill becomes progressively thinner as the distance between the cylinders decreases.  The areas with more layers – thicker – will stretch more than thin areas.  The resulting form may have some very thin areas but the curved lines that are a result of rolling give structural strength.  The rolled fold piece is much stronger that a sheet of metal of the same area and thickness.

"Whipped Cream"

The extraordinary volumes produced with the rolled fold method yield striking and visually intriguing forms.  The lines are organic and flowing, seemingly repetitive, but never the same.  Each piece of jewelry is individually hand crafted.   A design can be reproduced but there will be slight variations in the product. This means that no two pieces of jewelry will be identical.

I have fold formed sterling silver, 18K yellow gold and 24K gold.  The physical properties of these metals are very different.


Bracelet "Earthquake"Sterling silver is fluid and can yield spectacular volumes.





Gold Pendant "Waves"



18K yellow gold work hardens quickly and must be annealed frequently during the folding, milling and unfolding.





Pendant "Pure Treasure II"24K gold does work harden to some extent.  Considering the softness of pure gold, the increased hardness can be an advantage during unfolding.


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