Flame Coloring and Making a Steel Flower




The beauty of making sheet metal art is that once you have the right tools, you're really only limited by your imagination in terms of what you can make. This project cost me about $3 in materials, and I could certainly sell it for a lot more than that.

As I talked about in one of my other Instructables, Metalworking is a fun way to relieve stress and make inexpensive items that you can sell or give as gifts.

My previous instructable on Metalworking:


Step 1: Materials and Tools

For this project, we will need a few materials and tools.


- 22 Gauge sheet steel
- Two bolts
- Two steel rods with threaded holes in the ends
- Our printed design
- Spray can of clear coat for metal

Safety Gear:

- Goggles
- Gloves
- Ear protection


- Blowtorch
- Ball-pein Hammer
- Anvil
- Vice
- Drill
- Tin snips
- Hacksaw or dremel
- Curved metal file
- Screwdriver
-Scotch Tape
- Needle Nose pliers (preferably toothless)

- A scriber or other sharp metal point

If you have a tool that you think can do the same or better job than one above, by all means use it. This is just what I used.

Step 2: The Design

Our Flower will be made up of four parts; the head, the upper stem, the leaves, and the lower stem.

The design of the petals was done by David W. Wilson in his project, which can be found below:


This design lets us bolt together the pieces, letting us modify and repair the flower easily, and is a godsend for people who don't have access to welding equipment.

I used his petal design but did not make a very tulip-like flower by the time I was done. The leaf pattern I drew freehand. You could use the below image as a pattern that I think would work quite well.


Step 3: Applying Our Design

We want to cut out the designs as close as we can, trying to cut with smooth curves. This will make our job easier later.

Make little loops out of the tape and attach the tape to the backs of the cutouts. Stick them down onto the steel. Now we will trace around them with our scriber or other sharp object. A thumb tack with a handle will do, or you could use a marker if you're alright with sanding it off later.

After we've marked the outline of each shape, we can peel off and discard the cutouts. Don't forget to mark the drill holes at the end of each leaf and petal, and in the center of the 3-petal piece.

Step 4: Cut Out the Design

Next we'll take our tin snips and cut around the shapes. This part can be hard work, and be VERY CAREFUL of the sharp edges left behind. Don't worry about bending the steel a little bit to get the snips into place.

Take the hammer and lightly hit the piece to flatten it out, since it will definitely have become bent during the cutting. The edges are extremely sharp so we need to file them down smoother. File around the edges, looking for metal burrs that are like tiny metal slivers that stick up or out from the edges. File them off or pluck them off with needle nose pliers.

Now that the edges are smooth, we can move on to the fun part!

Step 5: Hammering Our Petals

The first thing to do is smooth the edges of each piece with the hammer. Place the piece on the flat of the anvil and hit around the edges lightly, so that the marks left from filing and the tin snips are flattened and almost invisible. Take a look at the pictures in this step to see what you're going for.

This step requires some experience with metal shaping, because we need to "feel" the hammer and metal, and how and where to hit it to shape it. Resting it on the horn and flat portion of the anvil and striking it with a hammer, squeezing it in a vice and bending it with the toothless pliers is labour intensive, and not really something that can be described. Basically, just keep working on it until you have shapes that you like. If you don't like how it looks, just keep trying. The metal is forgiving and you can do a lot of hammering before the metal becomes unusable. Feel free to practice a bit on some scrap before you start with the petal.

When you're happy, Flatten out the back end of the piece where our drill mark was, so that we can drill it. We're drilling it now because during all that hammering the hole would have become deformed. Drill a hole slightly bigger than the diameter of your bolt so that the bolt passes through with little clearance.

Put the bolt in the 3-petal piece and hold it in place with a screwdriver while sliding the outer petals onto the bolt. If everything is satisfactory, thread the rod onto the bolt. to get it tight, put the rod in your vice and then while holding the flower petals in one hand, turn the screwdriver and tighten it up.

Step 6: Flame-Coloring the Petals

Now that its bolted together, lets leave it gripped in the vice. Take the blowtorch and slowly heat the piece evenly until you begin to see color changes happening.

Heat it carefully until its the colour you want. You can heat different parts of it to different colours, but be very careful to not overheat unintended parts of the flower.

Make sure you have good lighting while you do this, to make sure you can see the colors well.

I colored mine so that the tips of the inner petals turned purple, and the rest of it was golden/straw colored.

Take a look at the color chart below, shamelessly stolen from member jtobako who stole them from http://www.tpub.com/content/aviation/14018/css/14018_664.htm and http://www.giantimpex.com/colorchart.htm

Step 7: Hammering the Leaves

To make the leaves, we are first going to put it in the vice horizontally, half-way protruding. Now, hit the leaf with a hammer so that it develops a bend in the middle. Squeeze the leaf in the vice until it has been folded in half. Use a flat-head screwdriver to pry the halves open, and place on the anvil and hit with a hammer and bend with pliers until it opens up almost flat, but still has a crease in the center.

Now, we are going to hammer a curve into the tip of the leaf. Hammer the tip flat, and then hammer it against the curve of the anvil horn until it is curved the way you want it.

We need to flatten out the base of the leaf so that we can drill a hole in it. If it is still folded, place it on a 90 degree corner of the anvil and hit lightly from behind until it opens up, then rest it on the flat of the anvil so it makes an upside-down V shape and hit from behind until its flat.

Drill our hole in the marked spot.

We need to saw the head off our second bolt with a hacksaw. Grip it in your vice so it sticks out horizontally, and saw the head off. Be careful and try to keep the blade in one place so it doesn't damage the threads, and cut as straight as possible.

When that's complete, screw one end into the upper portion of the stem, put the leaves on the protruding bolt, and screw the lower portion of the stem on. If it doesn't stay, try some lock-washers or using a thread locking compound like Lock-Tite.

Step 8: Flame Coloring the Leaves

Repeat the flame coloring process for the leaves and the stem. You may want to remove the flower head from the stem to make sure that no further discoloration happens to it.

Run the torch over the leaves and stem, moving up and down to heat it evenly until the colors begin to show.

After it has cooled and we're happy with everything, we can move on to clear-coating the flower.

Step 9: Finished!

So now that we're done, what to do with this thing?

I'll be giving mine to my girlfriend tomorrow, hopefully she has a positive reaction. Some ideas of what you could do with these are:

- A bouquet would make a good centerpiece for your dinner table
- Add a longer stem and stick in your garden
- A much smaller version could be made into a broach or large hair pin


Another thing you could do with it is stick a candle down the center of the flower and make a dining table centerpiece out of it.

Thanks for reading, and good luck with your own projects. Your imagination is your limit, so get to work!



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    43 Discussions


    11 months ago on Step 9

    There is better ways to color the steel. Check out steel fx on the internet or call around to local metal shops. Usually the bigger ones have the chemicals to cooler it better.


    4 years ago on Introduction

    I felt the same way when I took casses in metal-working. You create things more beautifully than I did, though.



    5 years ago on Introduction

    This blog gives the
    light in which I can observe the reality. This is very nice one and gives
    useful information. Thanks for this nice blog.



    5 years ago on Introduction

    Writing a blog can
    be difficult, but even with the odds, you’ve managed to get quite an
    audience. I highly recommend that you consider writing an ebook one day.


    5 years ago

    quite a few people mentioned doing it with soda cans but I'm not sure if anyone mentioned that you can't heat color aluminium right?


    8 years ago on Step 9

    u could also make it with coke cans bcoz they're red on the outside
    but then you kinda of take the fun out of it bcoz u cant use a blowtorch


    8 years ago on Step 6

    You are actually "drawing" the temper(hardness) when applying the heat. The purlpe is about the hardest. You can stop the run of colors by quenching the metal with water...b careful


    9 years ago on Step 7

    I apologize, but I'm having trouble understanding the construction of the stem. would you mind adding some pictures of how to attach the leaves to the stem and how to attach the two bolts? I love this instructable and you did a wonderful job on it. I don't think anything contrary, I'm just having difficulty visualizing this one part. Thank you for all your help. Have a good day.

    6 replies

    Hi, No need to apologize, I was a little vague and pictures were sparse. Unfortunately I don't have the rose anymore (since it was a gift from the start) but basically, the rods are steel rods with threaded holes at each end. As you can see in the template image, each pedal and the leaves has a hole for mounting. The petals are just a bolt threaded through all the petal holes and down into the threaded hole on the rod. The leaves are held in place by a threaded rod that was first screwed into one steel rod length, had the leaves threaded on, then screwed onto the upper steel rod and tightened with pliers. If you have any more issue I will draw you a picture to help you visualize it. Thanks for posting and for the kind remarks. Take care.

    Ok. That makes more sense. I couldn't see how to connect two solid rods with thread locking compound (probably because it would be pretty tough:P - I am now drawing the attention away from my stupidity). Thank you for your help and patience. I'll attempt to make a few of these in my spare time. They seem pretty cool. Approximately how long would you expect it to take a first timer with a makeshift anvil (the kind described in your previous instructable)?

    Probably no more than 4 or 5 hours. I had no clue what I was doing and I think it took me about 3 hours to do this one. Hopefully your makeshift bolt anvil will work for you.


    9 years ago on Introduction

    wow, great! Reminds me a lot of district 9.......


    9 years ago on Introduction

    Great 'ible. In Step 7 wouldn't it be easier to use a threaded stud instead of cutting the head off a bolt? I think the price would be about the same.

    1 reply

    Naturally, but the rods I bought were pre-threaded in some impossible foreign threading, and I only found a single bolt that was threaded correctly at the store. Next time, I'll thread my own rod.

    i love this projects im going to make one for my girlfriend. i do have one thought tho: i would be making the leaves higher up and securing them with solder but with the stainless steel rods that i have i dont know if they would stick, do you think that if i sanded the surface around the area of solder it would stick succesfully?

    2 replies

    In a word: no. You would have to weld them onto the rods. If you have welding equipment, this is probably an even better solution than bolting them on, but this really is your only solution. The only other thing I can think of is maybe drilling a hole into your steel rod and threading it, then bolting them onto the rod. Maybe somehow you could wrap the leaf around the rod and rivet or bolt it in place, but that might not look very nice.