Intro: Stainless Steel Rose From Scrap Metal
This is a rose sculpture I TIG (GTAW) welded at school. It is made from left-over stainless steel scraps that were straight off the shop floor at my school welding shop. I believe this project embodies the topic of this contest in a few ways. The first and most obvious being that it was completely constructed from scrap metal. And not just typical scrap...the scraps in our shop go through a series of re-uses until they reach a size that is no longer easily used in class and is then shipped to the scrap yard for recycling. I made sure to grab the majority of my scraps from the end bin to make sure the scraps had been re-used as much as possible before I began building with them. Secondly, the topic of my piece is a rose which is an embodiment and symbol of nature's beauty. I dedicated roughly 55 hours of shop time to obtain the final product to replicate that beauty as closely as I could. Lastly, the material I used for the project was stainless steel. I did this to give the final piece a certain level of complexity both visual and inherent. It stands as a icon that something as industrial as steel can be used to create one of nature's softest, most stunning symbols. It also shows that this relationship between industry and nature can be renewable and sustainable...hence the "Stainless" aspect of it.
Step 1: Equipment & Materials
- TIG (GTAW) or MIG (GMAW) Welder
- Stationary Belt Sander
- Bead Blasting Cabinet - Optional
- 4 1/2" Angle Grinder with Abrasion/Cutting Wheels
- Bench Grinder - Optional
- Metal Work Bench to Attach Ground Cable
- Bench Vise
- Ball-Peen Hammer
- Vise Grips
- Sheet Metal Sheers
- Dremel Tool with Grinding and Polishing Bits - Optional
- Typical Welding/Fabrication Safety Equipment
- 18, 20, or 22ga Stainless Steel Sheet Metal Scraps
- 1/4" Bar Stock (Round or Square)
- Stainless Steel Filler Rod (for TIG)
- Stainless Steel Electrode Wire (for MIG)
Step 2: Making the Basic Parts
It doesn't matter how you shape the metal as long as you can form the basic shapes needed to construct the parts of the rose. I had a full shop at my disposal, so I made my pieces using a hydraulic press to make straight cuts and I used a stationary belt sander to obtain the rounded shapes. However, these tools are not necessary. If you know any body that has a laser engraver/cutter (wink, wink), or a water jet you could draw up the pieces on AutoCAD and get them cut for you. Or if you have a bench grinder and a chop saw with an abrasion blade, you are totally capable of making these simple shapes. If you use a lighter gauge metal, such as 22ga, then sheet metal sheers will be adequate to cut the shapes out of the steel.
The petal is the main and most notable part of the rose. They are made using a simple ice cream cone shape. You need to make them in increasing sizes because they need to get larger and larger as you go from the center of the rose outward. The number required completely depends on how detailed and how tightly packed you would like to make the rose. I used about thirty petals in my sculpture and made them very tightly packed.
The leaves of the rose are made with a shape that is similar to an ellipse, but with pointier tips along the large axis. The number of leaves required depends on your taste. You can even leave them out of the sculpture if desired
The thorns can easily be made out of left over scraps from making the other rose parts. Any triangular piece scrap metal that is between 1/2" to 1" in length along the hypotenuse will work fine. Once again the number of thorns is completely up to you.
The stem can be made out of any piece of stainless steel that is about 1/4" in diameter. You could use round or square bar stock. Round would be ideal, but square might give the rose a cool look. Square bar stock can easily be sanded or ground to a round profile if need be. I did not have either of the aforementioned materials, so I constructed my stem by TIG welding together 4 pieces of 1/8" welding filler rod. I do not recommend doing this because it is time consuming and requires welding experience to do correctly, however if you have the filler metal, experience, and time at your disposal...knock yourself out! It took me at least 8 hours of shop time to accomplish, but I had the time to burn. One cool result was that it gave my stem a very natural look because of the distortion that resulted from welding the filler rods together.
Step 3: Forming the Petals Into the Rose Bloom
After the parts have been shaped you can move on to forming them.
Basically, you start by folding two of the smallest sized petal pieces in half so they resemble the shape of a hot dog bun. Then slide the edge of one piece into the center of the other piece and crimp them together in a vise. Now you have your starting point to begin welding. From this point on you have to form each piece so that it 'hugs' around the core that you just started. After you have shaped a petal you can weld one side of it to the core and then if need be, you can bend it to perfectly fit the contour of the core. Once you achieve the desired shape, weld the other side. Then bend the pointed part of the ice cream cone shape inward to form the bottom of the rose bloom, weld it up, and grind smooth. After each pedal is welded onto the core make sure to grind or sand off the weld beads to keep the rose tightly packed. Once you start getting a couple layers away from the core you can begin creating the 'lip' along the top of the petal. This gives the rose an opening effect visually. I won't try to describe in words all the techniques for obtaining all the contours because it would sound confusing. Just use your vise, vise grips, ball peen hammer, and work bench and get creative! By trial and error you will get the hang of how the metal behaves. Just remember that the good thing about working with metal is that you can always fix a mistake and no one will ever know the difference. Remember to alternate locations of the pedals to avoid making the rose look like a spiral. Once you have gotten the rose bloom to your desired size just weld up any gaps in the bottom and sides, grind them clean, and move on to the stem.
Step 4: Making the Stem
To make the stem, take the bar stock, hammer it, and bend it so that it isn't perfectly straight or smooth. This makes it look less like a bar and more closely resembles a real rose stem. Then take the triangular pieces you formed for the thorns and weld them in the desired locations. After they are welded, grind off the weld beads and use the grinder (Or sander, or file, or Dremel tool) and shape the triangle into a pointed thorn. After you have attached and formed all of the thorns, it's time to move on to the leaves. The leaves are formed by bending the ellipse shape along it's long axis into a V. Then bend the edges, so it begins to resemble a pair of wax lips. After that is done, bend the leaves along the center ridge to give them a natural curved shape. This is tricky to do. I did it by putting the piece in a vise (ridge on one side, 'lips' on the other) and hammered it towards the ridge side, opened the vise, slid it up a little, closed the vise, and hammered again. Do this a couple of times and it will have the desired shape. After you have finished the leaves, just weld them on to the stem and grind away the welds.
Step 5: Finishing
After you have made the rose bloom and the stem (with thorns and leaves), all you have to do is attach them. Just tack weld the tip of the stem onto the center of the bottom of the rose bloom. Stand back from the rose and look at it to make sure you have the stem where you want it. If it looks good, go ahead and weld it up and grind the weld bead off. Viola! You have just made a rose out of scrap metal! You can leave the rose 'as is' if you like or you can clean it up if you wish. For mine, I sand blasted everything except where the rose opens to get a nice clean look. I didn't sandblast the opening of the rose because the steel charred heavily when the rose bloom was very small, but as it became larger and larger it became more able to dissipate the heat and slowly became less charred. It gave the steel and cool look by being dark in the center and it gradually gets lighter and more reddish until it no longer shows any signs of being effected by the heat. Then I polished the thorns, etched my signature onto the underside of a leaf, and proceeded to show it to everybody. I had a great time making it and it is now one of my favorite art pieces. I hope you have the same experience as I did. Enjoy.