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Copper Bowl and Stand Centerpiece

Learn how to create a decorative copper bowl and metal stand -- perfect for displaying assorted fruits.

Young artist Marigrace Smith has an undying passion for blacksmithing and has spent over two years training for her future career as an ornamental blacksmith. With help from friends and family, she's cobbled together all the tools and equipment she needs for blacksmithing in her own back yard. Marigrace also sells her work at local craft sales.

Materials and Tools:

16 oz. roofing copper
1/2" round steel stock
coal fired forge
flatter hammer
cross peen hammer
stump prepared with hollowed out bowl shaped area
steel ball
hot cut chisel
hack saw or chop saw
drill press
tin snips
flux and flux spoon
bending fork
tub of water
chop saw
measuring tape
safety glasses, leather work gloves
wet washcloth

1. Measure an 18-inch circle on newspaper and cut it out. Trace around the circle on a piece of roofing copper.

2. Cut out the copper roofing with tin snips. Wear leather work gloves to protect your hands from the sharp edges of the copper. Place the copper in a vise and file the edges.

3. Prepare the coal forging area by lighting the newspaper and adding coal. Place the copper circle in the coal forge and heat the entire surface of the copper to make pliable. Remove the copper bowl with tongs from the coal forge and cool it off by immersing it in a tub of water. Note: Unlike steel, copper will stay pliable until the entire surface is hammered, even when cool.

4. Put the edge of the copper on top of the stump that has been hollowed out into the shape of a small bowl.

5. Using the flatter hammer and stump, form the copper into the shape of a bowl by rotating the edge of the copper and hitting the flat copper into the hollow of the stump. You will have a flat bottom bowl with edges turned up as high as the hollowed out stump was deep.

6. When the copper has formed the shape of a large, shallow bowl, place it upside down on top of a steel ball (like a trailer hitch).

7. Secure the bowl in the vise on the steel ball. Hit the bowl to the front of the ball rather than on top, making the second hollow space.

8. Rotate the bowl, hitting to the front of the ball till the shallow bowl has a dip in the middle to the desired depth. This second bowl shape will fit into a homemade stand. Clean the bowl with a wet washcloth.

9. To make the stand, measure the circumference of the base of the bowl and cut a piece of 1/2-inch stock to this length using a chop saw or a hack saw.

10. To forge the stand, heat one end of the steel in the coal forge and hammer the heated end until it is tapered almost flat using a cross peen hammer. Repeat this scarfing technique on the other end.

11. When the scarves have been made, forge the bar into a round shape until the ends are close to each other. Start by heating the end of the bar, place it over the horn of the anvil and hammer it until it begins to curve. Work your way up the bar, heating and hammering until the bar is shaped in a circle.

12. Join the ends by forge-welding them. Increase the heat of the fire and put the scarfed ends of the metal into the fire. Bring the steel to a light yellow/white heat. Apply flux to the scarves with the flux spoon. Use borax to get rid of all of the imperfections on the metal. Taking the ring out of the fire with the tongs, place it over the anvil and hammer the two scarves together. This will result in a forge weld.

Steps 13-21 were not shown or discussed on the segment — here are the directions for the legs of the stand:

13. To make the legs of the stand; begin by making the leaf area on the leg. Heat the end of the stock and taper it into a point. Heat from the tapered end down a couple inches and then "neck it down" by hitting the metal about one inch from the point, making a narrow "neck" in the metal. This portion of the steel will be the leaf. Add details later in the process. Keep the metal at least a bright orange heat from the tip of the steel to an inch below the neck area. Otherwise, the coolness of the steel and the vibrations of the hammer will cause this neck area to crack and the leaf area to fall off.

14. Heat the rest of the metal by beginning at the neck and heating and hammering to smooth and lengthen the stock. Repeat this process from the neck to about the middle of the piece.

15. Work on the other end of the steel to split it. Mark the end with a chisel in the middle of the stock when the metal is hot, put it onto the anvil and place a cutting tool on the mark and strike it with a hammer. By moving the cutting tool along the line that is marked and hitting it, you cut the metal to form two prongs at the end of the stock.

16. Bend one prong out of the way and taper the other prong to a point. Bend the tapered prong out of the way and do the same thing with the other prong. While bending the prongs back and forth, keep the bottom inch of the prong and at least three inches of the stock heated orange or you will break off the prong.

17. When the prongs are tapered curl them into a scroll shape. Bend one prong out of the way. Heat the other prong and place it over the anvil. Hammer it over the edge of the anvil, gradually pushing the prong forward, hammering over the edge, as the prong curls under the blows of the hammer. Each scroll will have its own look. The center of the scroll should be the diameter of the small rivets that will be used to attach the legs to the ring. Check the center of the scroll to be sure that the rivet is a snug fit.

18. To put the details on the leaf, go back to the other end of the steel and flatten the piece between the point and the neck. Hammer and shape this piece carefully making a leaf. While heating and shaping the leaf, be sure that the area from the point of the leaf to an inch below the neck is bright orange while you are working on it. When the steel is too cool, the vibrations from the blows of the hammer will cause the leaf to fall off.

19. Once the stock has a leaf on one end and two scrolls on the other end, heat the piece from the tip of the leaf to about the middle of the stock. Keep the steel orange and proceed carefully. Bend the steel in half. Wrap the leaf end around the stock like a vine.

20. There is now a loop at one end of the leg. Heat the loop orange and bend the loop using a bending fork to form a foot for the leg of the stand.

21. Make two more legs following the same steps for a total of three legs.

22. After making three legs, drill holes into the ring to attach the legs using a drill press.

23. Attach the legs to the ring by placing the rivets in the middle of the scrolls through the ring. Place the copper bowl into the stand.


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