Metalsmithing Sculpture: Make a Metal Daylily

Create sculptural floral forms using metalsmithing techniques and a hydraulic press

By Brad Nichols

In the summer of 2016, I created a series of three-dimensional works heavily influenced by the images of German photographer Karl Blossfeldt (1865-1932). This series began with an observation of Blossfeldt’s photographs of floral forms found in nature. As a complement, I investigated mass-produced, fabric/plastic flower forms used for weddings and other celebrations. Ironically, this dichotomy of fine art photography and craft store objects initiated the design process. The steps in this metalsmithing demo show the creation of a daylily using a combination of hydraulic press forming and hand-forging techniques.

ABOVE: This floral form metalsmithing project and an artist profile of the author appear in Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist, March/April 2018.

metalsmithing: Metal Daylily Sculpture by Brad Nichols,

Metal Daylily Sculpture by Brad Nichols, from the March/April 2018 issue of Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist.

What You Need

hydraulic press use

22-gauge copper sheets, 7″ x 7″ for petals and 6-1/4″ x 6-1/4″ for sepal
16-gauge brass for templates (optional)
4-, 6-, and 8-gauge copper wire
3/8″ copper rod
8-32 brass machine screw (or all-thread) and 8-32 brass cap nut
16-gauge brass wire
1-3/8″ x 1/4″ brass flat bar 4-1/4″ long and 14-gauge brass wire for veining die

Hand: Fine-tip marker or scribe, narrow cross-peen hammer, small riveting hammer, anvil, 10 or 16 oz. Bonny Doon Urethane Forming Hammer, jewelers saw, assortment of files, #30, #21, and #55 drill bits
Equipment and Accessories: Bonny Doon Hydraulic Press with Universal Tool Holder, ½” dap for Bonny Doon Press, contained urethane setup, 6″x6″ urethane sheet(s), forming stake, flex-shaft, soldering and annealing setup

BRAD NICHOLS is an Associate Professor of Metalsmithing at the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse. He received his Masters of Fine Arts from Cranbrook Academy of Art and his Bachelors of Science from the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse. Nichols has exhibited his work nationally at the National Ornamental Museum, the Cranbrook Art Museum, the Alden B. Dow Museum of Science and Art of the Midland Center for the Arts, and others. He has demonstrated and lectured on a variety of topics nationally and his work has been published in books, catalogs, and magazines such as Ironwork Today 4: Inside and Out, The Body Adorned, Metalize, The Anvils Ring and The Hammers Blow.

See more from this issue in the March/April 2018 Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist Lookbook!

Learn more about metalsmithing with these resources!


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