Introduction: Metal Roses Art, Copper and Steel Sculpture

Picture of Metal Roses Art, Copper and Steel Sculpture

My project in metals class at college, fall 2012. Assignment was to incorporate copper and steel into one sculpture. This is not a DIY home project, unless you have access to specialized tools such as anvils, mig welders, various metal cutters, etc. Also this is not intended to be a step-by-step instruction, rather it is a general guide to inspire your own creativity. I invested over 40 hrs because of the many individual parts to cut and shape. Enjoy!

Step 1: Make Paper Patterns for Each Rose Petal

Picture of Make Paper Patterns for Each Rose Petal

I used a fake rose as the prototype...

-Several pics and measurements from every angle was taken.
-Rose dissected and labeled in order piece by piece. Each row of petals changed in both size and shape. Correct order is important.
-These pics show the petals in its CONTOURED shape... the patterns I make on copper sheets must replicate them in its FLATTENED shape for accuracy.
-The petals look the same at first glance, but there are slight variances, as in nature.

Step 2: Draw and Cut Out All the Rose Petals

Picture of Draw and Cut Out All the Rose Petals

draw all rose petals on copper sheet with sharpie marker, Copper is EXPENSIVE and we were only given one sheet each, so I wanted minimal waste. Note how closely the petals are spaced. I had to purchase three more sheets.

This is what some of the cut, preshaped petals looked like. In total, I had about 116 petals and leaves. After each shape is cut out and edges sanded smooth, Annealing them with a torch made them more pliable for the next step... shaping with the anvil.

Step 3: Many Hours on the Anvil

Picture of Many Hours on the Anvil

Cutting and bending each piece took FOREVER, but the annealing process helped with the latter! I used the various anvils, and the plastic hammers on the soft copper.

Three of the petals I used... shown here with the prototype that I actually never used.

These are the 6 finished roses before installation.

Step 4: Making Steel Table/wall Base

Picture of Making Steel Table/wall Base

At this point I had no idea what to do for the base. So I started sketching, and came up with this pattern. Notice I overlaid it on the flat 16gauge steel, to make sure I can fabricate it in ONE piece.

I managed to form the thin stems into a closed tube shape with the aid of a clamp vise. After 4-5 hours of hammering and vise, I grinded the flat steel to produce this shiny metallic finish. The sculpture is self-standing, designed to be set on a table.

Step 5: Refine Base, Add Wall Mounting Bracket

Picture of Refine Base, Add Wall Mounting Bracket

Per design parameters, I needed to add a wall mounting bracket that can accommodate a mounting bolt. I wanted a bracket that blends with the design...

-First I made a paper test pattern, making sure proper fit.
-I transfer the pattern on scrap steel.
-I cut the steel about 1/2" past the line. this gives me enough extra material to hammer into round 3D shape.
-I test fit before welding, making minor adjustments.

Step 6:

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The leaves were cut to desired shape and size, then annealed. A slightly curved line was hammered to give it more depth.

To achieve the weathered patina:
-mix white vinegar with salt to a thin paste consistency
-apply the paste thoroughly to both sides of leaves
-let leaves sit in sealed ziploc bag for about 6-12 hrs. The longer it sits, the more it weathers.
-remove leaves and rinse off paste with water.

Attach leaves to sculpture base with sheet metal screws.

Step 7: Assemble Roses on Base, Add Optional Thorns

Picture of Assemble Roses on Base, Add Optional Thorns

I wanted the Roses to have slight movement, so I devised a spiral wrap that gave it a "bobblehead" motion. It is attached strongly, yet moves slightly if touched.

This is the prototype thorn I came up with, trying to add dimension and organic look to scrap copper.
-Polished thorn(left) looks better than unpolished(right) Tips are NEEDLE sharp!
-I first attach thorns w/ masking tape, so I can make any adjustments. I decided to install 15 thorns total.
-Each thorn installed w/ one sheet metal screw hidden in backside. It is important to use proper fastener(wood screws will NOT hold on to the metal).

Step 8: Finished Sculpture!

Picture of Finished Sculpture!

This is what it looks like mounted on wall and tabletop. I hope it inspired you to create your own unique piece:)


khayer79 (author)2015-05-28

awesome...very very nice..

bcavaciuti (author)2014-02-20

awesome almost looks like a crown :D

mamaibarra69 (author)2014-01-02

That's a beautiful work of art!!

Millineryjill (author)2013-04-19

Hi, would you consider selling these? Please email me on if you would. Thanks jill

Hi Jill, I'm flattered u would ask! I'll proly keep it though bc it's personal value to me is more than it's worth. btw i like ur cool hat designs.

Penolopy Bulnick (author)2013-01-16

Those roses are so pretty and when it is put all together it is just beautiful :) You should enter this into the Holiday Gifts Contest!

thx Penolopy! sorry for late reply.

shazni (author)2012-12-27

Beautiful work!

angelgabriel (author)shazni2012-12-27

Thx! I favorited your hotwire styrofoam cutter a few days ago. I plan to make one someday:)

awesomecreations (author)2012-12-22

This really should be a featured Instructable.

I'm new to this site... What is a featured instructable? Thx

See the "PRO" in front of my profile name? I got that via a featured instructable of mine. If an instructable is cool and popular (and different or that makes people say "Why didn't I think of that?!) and is made with simple, but in-depth instructions, it could become recognised by someone at Instructables who then adds it to the homepage or a group of instructables shown there..

Oh cool nice job. I don't see the PRO by ur name, but which instructable of urs earned it?

I was lookin at ur jellyfish yesterday. Very creative. I had a plastics light project in school 2weeks ago... That would have been nice to make in acrylic

The Halo sword was pretty cool though.

Lorddrake (author)2012-12-21

fantastic work

angelgabriel (author)Lorddrake2012-12-21

Thx! It was my first time workin w/ an anvil and mig welder. Very labor intensive, but fun.

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