Introduction: How to Make a Cool Dragonfly Sculpture From Scrap Steel

About: I am a massive fan of the Instructables community, but these days I spend more time sculpting than Instructabling. See my art work on Instagram @de_burgh_steel

Hello instructabling friends. Today I'm going to show you how to make a cool sculpture of a dragonfly out of scrap metal.

This will make an excellent Christmas gift. I always say that handmade gifts are full of love. I have made similar sculptures for my mother and my aunt. They are both keen gardeners, and they were both thrilled to receive a handmade dragonfly. These dragonflies can be placed in any garden to add a point of interest, or even attached to a plain concrete wall to add a feature.

You can of course adapt this project to suit your own tastes and resources. For example, you might prefer to use cardboard and hot glue if you don't have access to a welder. The choices are endless, and I will be really interested to see what you come up with.

If you like this project please consider voting for it in the Homemade Gifts Contest.

Step 1: What You Will Need...

For this project as I did it you will need the following materials:

  • Scrap metal (why buy metal when people leave it lying around for free?):
    • Something long for the body/tail; I chose an old bolt, it has a head already too.
    • Some sheet for the wings; I chose some stainless steel from an old submersible pump body.
    • Some thin rod for the legs; I had an old wire refrigerator rack.

Tools. There are always other ways to do things, so use your imagination if you don't have access to these.Here are the tools I used:

  • Angle grinder with:
    • Grinding disc,
    • Cutting disc,
    • Flap disc,
    • Wire brush.
  • Welder. I have an antique mig welder that still does the job.
  • Pliers.
  • Vise.
  • Wire brush.
  • Safety gear:
    • Gloves,
    • Ear muffs,
    • Face shield,
    • Leather apron,
    • Welding helmet,
    • Respirator.
  • Access to some inspiration for the design. I believe some people are gifted with a mind that produces inspirational ideas and designs; I'm not one of them. I use Google and Pinterest and the like. I search for images that clearly show the proportions I'm looking for and base my design on them.

Step 2: Create the Head, Body, and Tail.

The hexagonal bolt head does much look like a dragonfly head so I used my grinding disc and then my flap disc to give it a more natural looking shape. It's not a perfect likeness, just a little more convincing to the eye.

Next I needed some bulk to the body. I considered making the body out of another piece of steel, but chose to create the bulk buy running some thick beads of weld where it was needed. Look at the pictures and I hope you will see what I mean.

The tail is simply the long threaded part of the bolt. I used the grinder to give it some shape, and I bent some curves to make it look like a natural creature rather than a factory made object. I followed shapes I had observed in online pictures of dragonflies.

Now is the best time to do any aesthetic grinding. Once wings and legs are on ot will be quite difficult.

Step 3: Wings

Dragonfly wings look incredibly delicate, but of course they are strong enough to maintain flight. I chose stainless steel because I happened to have some at hand, but I'm glad I did because it will remain shiny while the rest of the dragonfly will become rusty. I think this will portray the sense of delicacy, especially as they are light enough to vibrate slightly in the wind.

I made some sketches based on pictures I had seen. When I had a pleasing looking shape I cut one out and placed it next to the body. When I was happy with its appearance I used the paper cut-out as a template to mark the stainless steel.

I carefully cut the wings out using the cutting disc and then smoothed the new cut edges with the flap disc.

I then carefully welded the new wings onto the dragonfly's body.

The wings can be easily bent around a bit to get their position more natural looking.

Step 4: Legs

Being an insect the dragonfly is blessed with six legs.

I made my legs from the wire out of the old refrigerator rack.

I simply used the pliers to snip off three wires. Each one long enough to make a pair of legs.

I welded each wire to the underside of the body at its centre making two legs each. See the pictures if that didn't make sense.

To decide where each joint should be look again at some pictures. Try to determine how long each leg segment is compared to the length of the body. Mark where the joint should be and then bend them using pliers. Be careful not to bend back and forth too much or you could snap them. Cut the length at the foot.

Now stand the dragonfly on its feet and adjust them to make it stand in a natural position on all six of them.

Step 5: Finishing

The dragonfly is now ready for a final tidy and adjustment.

Simply use the wire brush to rub away any soot from welding, and then adjust the wings and legs into a natural pose for a living creature.

Step 6: Conclusion

I found this little project to be pretty simple yet highly satisfying. My family liked the finished product and they are normally my harshest critics.

Now I have a tough job to chose who will receive this as their gift. Maybe I'll make some more and everyone can have one.

Thanks for reading my instructable. I hope you enjoyed it, and I hope it has inspired you to try something like it yourself. If you do, please share a picture in the comments.

Please feel free to post questions or comments.

If you are interested in seeing any of my other work please check out my my website or my Etsy shop.

Oh, and I'm entering this in the Homemade Gifts Contest so please vote for it if you like it.

Homemade Gifts Contest 2016

Participated in the
Homemade Gifts Contest 2016

Epilog Contest 8

Participated in the
Epilog Contest 8