Photo Owl





Introduction: Photo Owl

About: Awesome Gear I've designed myself.

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?

Step 1: 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

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

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.

Step 4: Owl Parts

This step requires a little more skill but not much. Wrapping a piece of wire around a socket it no problem. Though to separate them you need a pair of diagonal cutting pliers. This is a very common pair of pliers.

Filing the cut ends of the wire is where it could be tricky. To get the circles to close flush you have to use the same file angle on both sides. There would be enough wire to re-do this if it wasn’t right.

Trouble. To get a sharp bend in wire you have to file a notch. I used my diamond wheel in a drill press. These tools are not hard to get or specific to a trade but I consider them special. So I would have to modify the design.

The beak would come already cut out so no issue there.

Step 5: Deal Breaker: Soldering

Here’s where the failure was realized. To solder this you would need the following knowledge about working with silver solder.

1) Molten solder has a surface tension. It will keep parts in place to a certain extent.
2) Soldering one part will cause the part next to it to become molten again.
3) To overcome gravity you have to position the parts just right. That way they don’t slide off when your solder on other parts.
4) Solder must be placed so that the melting trail it leaves behind does not distract from the piece.

This kind of knowledge only comes through experience. Which voids the purpose of the kit. The idea is that a person of average skill can complete this. Even if they’ve never done it before. I consider this special skill. So I either have to modify the design or scrap it all together.

Other points: Another special tool; the wooden parallel clamp. If you’re a wood worker you may have one but your not going to want to singe it with a torch.

Which bring to mind “what if I don’t have a torch?”. You can use a jet lighter. They’re sold at any grocery store and are used for lighting candles.

Step 6: The Feet and Stand

This was not so hard. Basically you wrap the wire around a socket and then a smaller metal rod. With a little finagling it shapes right.

Step 7: Shining Up

The kit includes different grades of sandpaper, so shining it up would be done by hand and not in the same sequence as this instructable. It would show in the directions to polish before soldering.

So am I on the right track? Please let me know your thoughts in the comments.

Thanks for reading.



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    I saw this little guy and said how cute! Even if it doesnt hold pictures etc Its adorable and will get more people interested in Metal Crafting again. The only problem is Kickstarter itself. About 2 years ago I saw this water balloon thing and follwed it to kickstarter. It was such an amazing idea I signed up and bought right away. We were to get out product in 3 months. Towards the end they needed a "few more" buyers so I bought a double shippment with specific colors. I and hundreds of others wrote and wrote as almost a year later... nothing. The people had went with a chinese company to make them, not themselves as they stated and no one would reply to out constant comments asking where was our shipments. I understand not all apples are bad but for a first time buyer, Kickstarter has left a bad taste for me. When contacting Kickstarter iteself, they said they were not liable for anything and to contact the maker. Completly useless. So for any other site, Woohooo go for it I hope it is amazing. But for Kickstarter Ill never buy from again. Sorry. Your stuff looks fantastic though :)

    1 reply

    The biggest problem with Kickstarter is that too many people don't understand that you don't "buy" there. It's NOT a catalog site, where you purchase what you want. It IS an investment site. You are investing in the person's idea. It is speculative. Like all business ventures, you may win or you may lose. If the person with the idea knows what they're doing, they'll produce a product (of some sort) and your return on your investment will be a "reward" package as promised by the person with the idea. Kickstarter the company, only provides a path from investor to investee and for this the take a percentage of the investments. That's all! Kickstarter doesn't guarantee anything! MS71 you use the word "buy" so often it's clear that you went into it like so many people do. I'm sorry you lost money and that the investee(s) obviously care more about themselves then their investors or they at least would have emailed and explained why or what failed. They may even been scamming from the start.

    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.

    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.

    1 reply

    That's awesome! I especially like the shaping of the wings. I hope you had a good time with the project. Great work.

    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? ;)

    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?

    1 reply

    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.

    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!

    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

    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.

    1 reply

    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

    2 replies

    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

    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.

    2 replies

    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.

    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.