One of the things that drew me to jewelry making, and continues to keep me hooked, is the fact that I can make good use of the many different types of crafting techniques I have learned through the years. So far I have made good use of loom and basket weaving, cutting, sewing techniques, even knitting and embroidery to some extent. But nothing beats learning something completely new!
My latest fascination? Fold forming – a new (to me) technique. When I first encountered jewelry created this way, I was smitten. I feel an instant connection with the organic flowing designs that create the illusion that the metal isn’t metal, but fabric, leather, even bark or leaves. The texturing techniques I wrote about here not so long ago are perfect for embellishing fold formed jewelry pieces!
While it certainly looks like a technique that has been around for ages, it turns out to be a relatively new invention by Charles Lewton-Brain, a master goldsmith born in Great Britain, raised in Tasmania then trained in Germany, the US and Canada, who pioneered fold forming in the 80’s. Fold forming essentially combines the traditional Japanese art of origami with metal smithing techniques.
At the time this new way of forming metal was considered the first significant new development in metal smithing since ancient times, an accomplishment that was officially recognized in 1990 by Paul Craddock, head of the British Museum Research Lab! You can read a more detailed description here and here.
So what exactly is “fold forming”? Well, in a nut shell it involves a combination of folding, hammering, annealing, more hammering and texturing, annealing, hammering, filing, pickling, polishing, antiquing and some more polishing.
While it seems a bit of a labor intensive process, it is oh so worth it! I generally have a basic design, a direction, if you will, in mind at the start The fun part is to let the metal “tell” you what it wants to do or be. It is so satisfying to see a piece slowly evolve as you continue to work on it. And the end result somehow always seems to turn out even better than you envisioned it! No two pieces ever turn out the same way, which only adds more charm and uniqueness to this type of jewelry.
If you have been reading my blog for a while, you know I love to gush on about copper. It is an ideal material for this technique. The antiquing process adds an extra dimension to fold formed pieces that makes this a real winner.
Here are some of the pieces I have created using this technique so far:
I have so many more ideas how I would like to incorporate fold forming techniques into my jewelry creations, but here is a little teaser for you!
This necklace took me much longer than I have ever worked on a piece, because I kept changing out little details. Not until I was able to add the small fold formed pieces, did the necklace finally “hit its stride”. What do you think? Isn’t that lamp work bead, another gorgeous creation by my friend, amazing?
Find these and my other pieces created using fold forming in my Etsy Shop!
I would love to know what you think about this technique!