This instructable will guide you through making a simple and easy copper flower using minimal tools and equipment. This project utilizes thin guage copper that can be cut with household scissors and doesn't require any specialized metal working tools. In fact I made this on my coffee table in my apartment. The rainbow effect is achieved using a heat source (oven or torch) to oxidize the copper to create a multitude of colors, but more on that later. I would like to mention instructables by SanjayBeast and vbow (linked below) about how to make copper roses. They are more advanced and require additional equipment but offered a ton of inspiration for this project and you should definitely check them out.
- 6 x 12" Copper Sheet (32 ga.)
- 1/4" Copper Tubing
- Copper Wire
- Paper & Marker
- Spray Lacquer
- Hack Saw
Step 1: Pick a Flower and Create Your Template
Before you can start creating your flower you have to decide what type of flower you want to make. I designed this project based off of a lily, but the same process can be used with any type of flower.
Once you have decided on the type of flower the first thing you need to do is create a paper template. Use pictures or even a real flower for reference taking note of the size and shape of the petals and how the petals are layered. For a lily the petals are not heavily layered and the six flower petals can be accomplished with two layers that are staggered with three petals each. Don't forgot about the sepal. The stamen will be made with copper wire. I used a single template for both petal layers and that worked fine for me. Cut your template out and trace it onto the copper sheet. I recommend using a dry erase marker as it is easy to clean off any extra maker residue.
Step 2: Cut Out Your and Prep Your Pieces
Ounce the templates have been traced drill out the center hole for the stem with a 1/4" drill bit. It will be easier to drill the hole while the copper sheet is still whole rather than after it has been cut into smaller pieces. USE CAUTION and stay safe. The copper will want to catch and spin when you get through it so make sure it's fully secure and wear gloves.
Cut the stem to length using a hack saw. This ensures the end remains open rather than getting pinched shut like it would if you used tin snips. The open end will help secure and hold the stamen. The 32 ga copper used in this project is quite thin and you should have no problem cutting it out with a regular pair of household scissors. Because it's so thin the copper is prone to creasing so do your best to avoid any sharp creases or bends while drilling and cutting out all of the pieces. Once the pieces are cut out knock down any sharp edges with a sanding block or some sandpaper. Keep any scrap pieces of copper, they will be used them in the next step.
Step 3: Make Them Rainbow
Now to make the magic happen and produce the rainbow effect. First things first you want to thoroughly clean the copper with soap and water and try to avoid getting any fingerprints it. When heated an iridescent oxide layer will form on the copper. The specific result is dependent on temperature and exposure time. I produced the examples seen here using a torch, but more uniform color changes can also be achieved using an oven (see last picture). Use the scrap pieces of copper you saved to test/practice making the rainbow effect before trying on the real thing. Ounce you have have a color/pattern you're satisfied with let the copper cool down to room temperature. While hot the oxide layer isn't set yet and can be smudged or damaged.
- Securely hold the copper using pliers (the larger the better) and make sure the area is clear from any potential fire hazards
- Bring the copper up to temperature slowly by putting it under the flame for 1/2 second at a time. You can tell it's up to temperature when you remove the flame and start to see colors form on the copper.
- From here it's more of an art than a science. GO SLOW, the different colors are a result of a temperature gradient. If you apply too much heat for too long it will wash out all of the colors. Try applying heat from the edges and from the back for different effects. Don't worry if you mess up or lose a pattern as you can keep working the same piece till you're satisfied.
- As previously stated this option will produce more uniform colors, but multiple rounds can be done to combine different colors in the same flower.
- The colors achieved using an oven vary with the temperatures and exposure times. My results were as follows, but expect variations with your specific oven.
As seen in the picture from left to right
- 200 degrees F for 20 min for a grayish color
- 300 degrees F for 20 min pale yellow
- 350 degrees F for 20 min gold yellow
- 400 degrees F for 20 min pinkish red
Step 4: Final Assembly
Once all of the pieces have been "rainbowed" it's time for final assembly. I found it easiest to start by putting the stamen in the top. I fit as many pieces into the top that would fit and then soldered them in place, but epoxy or super glue would work equally well. Add the petals and sepal from the bottom of the stem. Before fastening everything in place roughly adjust and shape the petals to make sure everything fits properly and are appropriately spaced. Soldering the pieces together would produce the strongest joint but you risk ruining the rainbow pattern so I opted for chemical fasteners. Once everything is to your liking use epoxy and super glue to fasten everything in place. I used a small amount of 5 minute epoxy applied with a toothpick to on the underside of the petals to hold them in place. Once it was set I went back and reinforced everything with super glue. Give your petals their final shape using a pair a pliers. Be sure to tape the jaws of the pliers so that they wont scratch the petals. The final step is give your flower a lite coat of spray lacquer to prevent it from tarnishing and you're done!
Participated in the
Colors of the Rainbow Contest