Introduction: 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

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

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

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

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

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:

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

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!

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

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