Posted by: alenegeed | October 16, 2013

Fun With Foldforming… Metal, that is!

A few years ago I took a metals class at the Mesa Arts Center.

cuprinol patina

One of the processes explored at length was fold forming.

I took to this process like icing on cake.  (OK, so I am a little hungry as I write this)

At any rate fold forming is FUN!! I experimented during the classes, on the days between classes and then just kept trying new ideas. The book that helped me the most was Fold Forming by Charles Lewton Brain.   Every page had some new process and idea. Here you can see one of the first pieces I made. Using a thinner gauge copper helped me create folds that look like draped material.

So what IS fold forming you ask?  Here is the official definition from Wikipedia.

Fold-forming is a technique of metalworking whereby metal is folded, repeatedly forged and annealed, and unfolded; at which stage it generally has a dramatic new three-dimensional form.

You can start with thinner gauge metal and create stability and strength in it by using this process.

copper raw for folds

Maybe this image will help.  Here is a flat piece of copper that has been annealed (heated to softness)
Right below it is the first FOLD made. I just folded the piece in half taking care not to flatten it completely.
Now from this starting fold you can create almost anything! The fold can be hammered flat and then reopened to create a hard fold.. or hammered with a mallet for a soft fold…. OR  you can put the copper in a vise and flatten the fold to create a centerpiece. Then there is also the addition of texturing, air chasing, folding perpendicular or angled…   The possibilities are endless.

The main piece of advice here is that you DO need to anneal EACH TIME you create a new fold.

foldforming tools

This re-softens the metal so it is ready for your next flash of inspiration!
If you don’t do this the metal will become brittle and basically unusable for your creation.

Tools that you need?

See image to right for the basics. I use the Delrin hammer to create the soft folds. This material does not re-harden or alter the metal.
I use a standard putty knife to unfold and the Confirming Pliers to open up even more… or to refold smaller surfaces.
So far all the work I have done is with hand tools. The hydraulic press is another tool to take your designs to the next level. I have not made that commitment yet!

Here are a few of the designs I created using Fold Forming.

The fold in the middle was hammered down on one side and then twisted and hammered the other direction on the other side. One of my favorites!  
The second one (aptly named Saguaro Landscape features diagonal folds with added sterling and gemstone.. OK, I LOVE this one too!


Hope you have enjoyed this journey into fold forming!

You can see more of my pieces at

If you liked this post you may enjoy   Three Gorgeous Patinas for your copper.


  1. This is great. I took one class that touched on fold-forming, but don’t really feel like I know what I’m doing yet. Am anxious to get to try this. Love the one with the silver and the gemstone, although the twisted one is great, too.

    • thanks Kay. I practiced a LOT before it felt right. That being said, it did not feel like work at all and since you can use copper for the practice metal, there is little expense involved. I have done a few cuffs in sterling, too. Just havent focused on it since I started adding the silver to the copper base. I love the contrast.

  2. I have a little used Bonnie doon with lots of extras for sale if interested

  3. […] If you liked this Post you may like  Fun with Foldforming… Metal that is! […]

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