Picture of Photo Owl
I’ve been working on a series of metalcraft kits for a Kickstarter project (big thanks to the members who’ve helped me so far). The idea is a kit with all the items you need to craft an item from metal. Launching this project has been quite the experience. There are so many details to take care of to include pledge rewards.

One of the rewards is a kit that covers the basics techniques of metalcrafting. I’m putting it out in the form of a “Steel Critters” kit. This little box will have what’s needed to create 3 different critters.  I have two out of three down. One's a gecko. Another's a spider. The third is still up in the air.

Here the guidelines I’m working under.
1) Sparks creative interest.
2) Can be completed with common tools.
3) Does not require special skill.

Along with describing the steps to create this I’ll explain why I consider the Photo Owl a failure. Back to the drawing board. Other ideas are a Seahorse, Mouse, and Crab. Any suggestions?
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Step 1: Kit parts

Picture of Kit parts
Out of the box you’d have a metal disc, wire, and the different size cylinder blanks to form the spirals. So metal shears or a lathe is not a factor for the crafter.

Step 2: Embossing

Picture of Embossing
This step is easy. You’d need a hammer and tape. All you’d need to know is how to aim a hammer. Easy, I promise. So were still on track.

Step 3: Dapping

Picture of Dapping
For this step you’d use an included carriage bolt and wooden square. You can’t mess this up. As long as you hammer the disc in-between the wood and bolt, it will turn into a convex dish. Still looking good.
Pat_Maroney2 years ago
Thanks for the feedback Mr.B!
The wings are two pieces of scale maille I got from as a sample. They polished up quite well.
Pat_Maroney2 years ago
Here are the pics from my attempt. I wanted to make a necklace, and decided to epoxy the features to the back instead of soldering. All in all I'm satisfied with the turnout.
Mrballeng (author)  Pat_Maroney2 years ago
That's awesome! I especially like the shaping of the wings. I hope you had a good time with the project. Great work.
Pat_Maroney2 years ago
No kidding about it being hard :/
I'm making one right now, and after two tries on all the face features I finally have a passably soldered piece. I'm hating that I have such a large bead of solder at the crux between the eyes and the brow. Blows my mind how you got such defined eyes and brows with minimal solder Brent, you broke the mold when you made this one.
And the polishing alone is tasking by itself, but no one said it had to be perfect right? ;)
tech dawg2 years ago
What if you tell the person on the kit that they have to buy there own metal epoxy?Or maybe include just enough of it for the to complete critter?
Mrballeng (author)  tech dawg2 years ago
I think it's going to be an "easy medium hard" kind of thing. This one will be the hard one. Thanks for the suggestion.
spylock2 years ago
Cool little owl,I think Ill try one outa copper,maybe make mine into a votive,with yellow or green marbles for eyes.Nice job on yours!
action pig2 years ago
I love your projects. Good luck with the kickstarter (I'll join in for sure!)
I agree, the soldering trick would be a deal breaker for many. When I made those heart pendants, I had never soldered for this purpose before and it took me 3 days to get the hang of it. For 'newbies' who have never handled a soldering iron before, this would frustrate me beyond my 'give a crap' level and I would probably quit trying.

You might just have to have the eyes the same way you made the embossing. Challenge here would be to find something of equal size that you can hammer perfect circles with.

While you and I have drill presses in which to make use of fun polishing wheels, not everyone would have one of those either. For your instructions you'll probably want to demonstrate the same project using both the wheel and by hand.

Looks great so far. Think that will be one of my next projects when I get back home from deployment! :D
tibbytrix2 years ago
This is really cool! I'd love to see the other ideas/animals or themes you have in mind for this. I'd love to make one. I have just joined this site after seeing your project.
Mrballeng (author)  tibbytrix2 years ago
Thank! I'm making a crab that holds my phone charger cord to keep it from falling behind my nightstand.
Hello Mr B. I found a 15 # Anvil for $ 19.99 and about $ 13.00 shipping at Northern Tool. It should be here soon, but It looked good to Me. G-G
Mrballeng (author)  snoopindaweb2 years ago
That's a great find. I think it's time to replace the sledge hammer head I use for an anvil. Thanks for sharing this.
Hello again, The anvil came today, Covered with a thik grey layer of something I've never seen. It took some time and a couple peices of sandpaper to clean that rough grey stuff off the working surfaces with My Palm Sander. It must have been prepaired for a few centurys storage in the Bermuda Triangle. It smoothed up to make a "Plenty good enough for Me" tool for Me in about an hour and a half give or take Later. G-G
pudtiny2 years ago
How about some sort of metal glue instead of solder like JB weld? I think if you produce your kits pitched at three different skill levels people would be able to improve their skills.
Mrballeng (author)  pudtiny2 years ago
I like your style. There are ten project kits right now in 3 different skill levels. This particular kit is an extra for the rewards. Thanks for the suggestion.
I had the same initial thought. JB weld or epoxy - easy peasy, also for filing the notch for the eyebrows I think a simple hand file would do it. Certainly more work than a diamond wheel, but not over the top - and it adds an important skill for metal working - hand filing. As always lovely work - sounds like a great project.
JimMonty2 years ago
I think you create many different, beautiful items. The idea to make these simple kits is great. I like the owl though, maybe you can have an advanced series also.
Mrballeng (author)  JimMonty2 years ago
I think I may have to switch out the Owl for the Rocket locket. There are three categories right now. I think this would be advanced.
Mrballeng (author) says:
I think I may have to switch out the Owl for the Rocket locket. There are three categories right now. I think this would be advanced.

Greetings. What are the three categories?
Mrballeng (author)  JimMonty2 years ago
Beginner, intermediate, advanced.
Thanks & Good Luck!
sabu.dawdy2 years ago
Eldrickg2 years ago
I love it!! Great creation once again sir!!
That's so cute! I was confused by that second picture in the intro. For some reason, when I saw it, I thought, "oh it's a picture of the owl sitting on the table while everyone is sitting on the couch behind it." But then I couldn't figure out why the people looked different than the owl, like they weren't from the same picture. But that's because they aren't! Anyway, very cute :D
That is funny...I thought the same thing Penolopy! I was thinking it was some sort of charm that you pose in EVERY picture....kinda like the travelocity knome! lol
Mrballeng (author)  Penolopy Bulnick2 years ago
That's funny. I was actually going to ask your permission to use your avatar image in the holder (all your nice comments make you recognizable) but I thought that might come off as kind of stalker like. Thanks for the complement.
I did the same thing you did! I thought it was sitting there, so cool Mrballeng! As always a wonderfully crafted piece that looks amazing!
gmorse12 years ago
Ok - thought on the degree of difficulty for soldering on the eyes....what about making the eyes a couple copper sheeting discs instead of wire rings? Would spot soldering discs on from the back side (could heat from the back) discolor the copper too much? Or making discs from the same sheet as the body? Just a thought....
Mrballeng (author)  gmorse12 years ago
That's a great idea. Even if it does discolor you can bring it back with just a little buffing. Thanks for the input. The gears in my head are turning.
jawasan2 years ago
I think that is awesome with the kickstarter project...definitely put up a link...I will chip in!!
Yes, please link us! I'm very interested!
Mrballeng (author)  jawasan2 years ago
I sure will. I'm trying to do a good job on it. I'm hoping to have it up this month.
sunshiine2 years ago
This is so cute. The owl would make a nice nick-nack as well. I faved!
Mrballeng (author)  sunshiine2 years ago
Thanks sunshiine!
wold6302 years ago
Adorable! Your craftsmanship is always so fantastic.
Mrballeng (author)  wold6302 years ago
Thank you.
gmorse12 years ago
Love this!! I'll be working on some of these for my owl-crazy family and friends for Christmas!
jawasan2 years ago
oh....and another nice project!!