Forging A Flower Form

By Dave Koenig

At the ABANA Conference in La Crosse, WI, Elizabeth Brim and I got into a discussion about a flower form she used in her Gallery piece, a bouquet of flowers.  The idea for the flower form came from her experience as a teacher in clay. 

The form is quite simple.  Elizabeth took a quarter or five sixteenth round rod and welded a loop on the end.  Then the loop was forged closed and spread into a square like form thinner than a sixteenth of an inch.  The edges were separated about a quarter of an inch from each edge and rippled.  She combined a number of these flower forms along with many ‘buds’ (small closed loops) and leaves to form a bouquet.  The bouquet was tied with a forged ribbon.

I mentioned my interest in trying to make the form and she said this is just a beginning.  The possibilities are endless.  It is now up to others to see how this idea can be expanded.

Below is one attempt to begin expanding the concept.  Think about what you can do differently to create an even different shape.

Start with a half-inch round bar twenty inches long.  This length will be long enough to forge the form and avoid the use of tongs

Draw out a flat taper about an inch long and a half an inch wide.  If you have a step on your anvil, lay the taper facing the horn and strike the rod at the step making an offset. 

  Bend the offset forward so the scarf lays flat on the bar and the eye is open.

 

Forge weld the eye.  Bring the bar and scarfed area up to a yellow heat.  Remove it from the fire.  Brush all the scale off and flux.  Put the piece back in the fire.  Bring it up to a welding heat and forge weld the eye.

  Draw out the welded area to a little less than a three eighths inch square.  This is the start of the stem for the flower form.

 

Forge the loop closed and begin to spread the loop upon itself.  Use the peen of a cross peen hammer.  Work both sides of the loop equally to maintain a relatively even spread on each side.

When the total thickness of the spread loop is about one quarter of an inch thick, use near edge half face blows to begin to draw out the end of the loop.  This piece of metal will be drawn out more later to form a tendril.

 

Continue to spread the loop upon itself until the total thickness is about an eighth of an inch thick.

Now is a good time to refine the stem.  Right now the stem is the thickest part of the form.  Draw out the stem to a little under a quarter of an inch round.

 

 

The next thickest part of the form is the point created by the near half face blows.  Draw this out to a taper with a base of about one eighth of an inch thick.

Take an even heat on the spread loop.  The metal is thin and will be easy to burn.  Turn the spread loop in the fire to be sure the heat is even on both sides.  Usually one edge of the spread loop will open a little.  Insert a flat blade screwdriver in the opening and rotate the bit.  The sides will separate easily.

 

 

If the edges do not open enough to use a screwdriver to begin the separation, clamp the spread loop in a vise.  Let an uneven edge stick up about three eighths of an inch.  Use a hammer to tap the high side out.  This now becomes the place to insert a screwdriver.  Take another even heat and open up the loop with a screwdriver.

Place the opened loop around the horn of the anvil and tap on the stem and tip to fully open the loop.

 

 

The loop is thin and will be very easy to burn in a coal forge.

Form the tendril by bending the tip up ninety degrees and making a loose coil.  Pull the coil apart to form the tendril.

 

 

Continue to heat and shape each side of the loop over the horn or stump or with other hand tools.

The possibilities of this forging are limited only by your imagination. 

Have fun with it!