Intro: How to Make a Brass Flower
Prom was coming up, and I found myself actually having a date. Through whatever set of circumstances, my girlfriend challenged me to make the centerpiece for her corsage myself, so, being a studious maker, I gathered up the odds and ends at my disposal and got to work on a flower. I didn't really know where to start, so I just Googled 'Corsage' and looked for something simple enough to make out of some brass sheet I had been saving for some unknown purpose. My search was over when I found an orchid. It was delightfully simple; it had just six petals that were easy enough to pattern with pencil and paper. I cut out the patterns, then traced them onto the brass and cut them out. I cleaned up the edges with a file and then bent them into shape with two pairs of needle-nosed pliers. I made several attempts at soldering them together until, after many singed fingers and muttered curses, I succeeded at long last. I ended up with two very similar, yet unique, brass orchids. The night of prom comes and goes with all due celebration as they must, for I would wonder endlessly at the occasion if I had never attended one personally. In the early afternoon of the day after, I log in to instructables to peek around and whatnot, and I decide that the world should know about my creation. And thusly will I humbly present the documentation and commentary of the making of a third brass orchid.
This flower can be finished in about two hours. There is no mandatory down time and it is a moderately easy project.
Step 1: Things You Will Need and Where to Find Them
The items I used and where I got them are as follows:
-Needle nose pliers: Any hardware store
-Rosin Core soldering wire: Radio Shack
-A butane torch: Home Depot, but I believe Lowe's has them too.
-Butane refill for torch: Home Depot
-Lighter: Grocery store, dollar store, department store, sporting goods store.
-Files: Hardware store. To clarify, I only used the machine file on this project, but just about any metal cutting file will do.
-Copper Wire: Hobby store- Michael's
-Brass sheet: Michael's
-Aviation shears: Lowe's
-Hammer and Striking surface: I got the hammer at Lowe's, and the striking surface is a bit of 3/16" metal plate
-Safety Glasses: Hardware store or department store. Should be used during soldering operations.
Step 2: Conceptualization
I began my project with some research. I know that some flowers are very beautiful, yet forbiddingly intricate, so my task here was to find a beautiful flower that was either simple enough to make as it is, or something that I can modify, yet preserve the most beautiful aspects.
I searched for 'Corsages' through Google and found plenty of flowers, many of which were out of my skill range. After looking around over and over again, I found a suitable candidate: The orchid. The petals are delightful, and the shape is graceful, but that bit in the middle would be a bit too much of a challenge for me.
I drew up the shape of the petals and played with them until I made something that I liked. I cut them out of the paper and set them aside to become the patterns.
Step 3: Layout, Cutout
To get all of the pieces of the flower, I traced the patterns onto the brass three times each. It's best to place all of the pieces as close to the edge as possible in order to reduce waste. At this point in the project, it starts to become very important to take your time. Be patient and think things through. Remember: Haste yields Waste.
Step 4: Finishing and Shaping
Once all of the petals were roughly cut, I filed them smooth with a machinist file. Be sure to file all surfaces smooth and to remove all of the little teeth marks from the aviation shears. If your brass sheet has a protective film over it, you will want to remove it now to avoid burning it when you solder.
It's possible to get blisters from handling the workpiece so much; if this happens, use an adhesive bandage to pad the affected area.
After I filed all of the edges smooth, I used my pliers to mold the petals into a more organic shape. Bend the outside edges gently upward , and then bend the length of the petal gently downward.
Step 5: Soldering... Soldering... Soldering... ALL DONE! (kinda)
This will outline provide a very simple method of soldering termed 'sweat soldering' I am including a short video as well.
Be sure to conduct all of your work over a well dampened towel. this will protect your workspace from damage and is useful for cooling hot metal.
These petals need little stems to hold everything together. It is most prudent to solder the stems in just about the middle of the piece. Though counter-intuitive it may seem, the flower cannot be properly assembled otherwise. Cut the stems about an inch and a half in length to provide ample space to work with. grip both petal and stem in the jaws of the pliers at the very base of the petal. Heat up the piece with the torch in the place that is to be fused. once the piece has heated sufficiently, remove it from the flame and press the solder gently into the desired location. It should melt upon contact and make a little puddle. Press the piece into the wet towel that you have on hand to cool it down until the solder hardens.
Here is the videographic version
Step 6: If You So Desire to Proceed.
I've done three of these so far. They are a bundle of fun. For this one, I used paint effects to finish everything off. Be creative, you are only limited to your imagination.
Thanks for reading!
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