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I Forge Iron

Christmas ornaments

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Ok the pesky upgrade that removes all the old picts has made searching the site just about useless. The thread I located was great, but with no picts it might as well have been written in Mandarin for all the good it does. A google search did pull up a few gallery picts by one member, but other than that I got nothing searching so far.


I have a demo/ sale coming up and I started thinking today that maybe I'd get a jump on the christmas season and make up a few ornaments to toss out on the table mid September. Yeah it's WAY too early and early Christmas stuff is a pet peeve of mine, but it's a chance to maybe get the thought in some ones mind and maybe I'll get a few sales as we get closer to Christmas if they take one of my cards. At the moment, I'm not sure what other sales I may get to attend this year, so I figured I'd make the most of the chance I have coming up. Plus it puts out more of a variety of items on the table besides hooks, plant hangers, my welded horse shoe art and key chain stuff.


I already figure on the split crosses and I found a nice twisted "icicle" with a marble inside in the gallery by J W Bennet here from back in 2008. I figured maybe you others might have some ideas, something else besides the simple cookie cutter sheet metal shapes cut out and textured. I've thought about dishing out and making a few hemispheres and maybe brazing them together as hanging balls. I've thought of a large piece of round stock flattened into a disk/mound, and have a few thoughts of maybe some heavy bar stock necked down and tapered as a tree. I wonder if I can find some thin sheet stock if I can't do the old folded paper snowflake in steel... Heat it and fold it all up, then take the saw or chisel to the stack and see what happens when I unfold it..


So lets see what picts you might have to inspire me.


Here's the ones I found so far


And the thread that's just about useless with no picts...    grumble.thumb.gif.239d306ebb3491eb5d495a         banghead.thumb.gif.e5b2d71ab85276e3d6008



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  • 3 weeks later...





You wouldn't believe how hard it is to locate glass marbles locally. I wanted to use some 3/4" or 1" swirly glass shooters, but best I could locate was 1/2" blue ones at Michael's for centerpieces. Guess I'll have to order some online.

I also tried to do some dished copper tree ornaments. 1st time I've worked this way with copper. 1st one dished down to about 3/4" before it split slightly. 2nd one didn't dish anywhere near as far before it tore. If I can get 2 that are close in depth, I'll try and trim them and solder the 2 halves together to make some sort of sphere. The copper flashing I'm using may be a bit too thin. I'll have to talk to the scrap guy I got this stuff from and see if he has any more clean flashing and if he ever gets in any stuff that is thicker.

I'd still like to see what other ideas people may have for this sort of project. I want to try and do a tree topper with the 1/16" rods twist if I can locate some non galvy thin wall steel tube. I think sched 40 pipe f or the socket may be too heavy up top on a tree .

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Yes. Actually I got more "stretch" out of the one I didn't heat as much. I'd finished drilling the block and didn't want to wait to play with it so I started to gently go at it with the ball peen at the house I stretched it about as far as I got with the 2nd one, then chickened out and left it alone until I could take it up to the shop the next day to heat it with the torch so I didn't work harden it too much. After it split, I decided I had an idea how far I could go, so I cut a 2nd piece and tried again. I'd dish it some, then heat, dish some more and heat again, trying to work on getting the edges hot as I knew the steel would wick up heat more and make heating the edges harder than heating the center. I do think I worked the center more originally than the edges. the 2nd time since it cracked, I thought I'd try to thin the edges 1st, that way I'd have more stock in the middle to stretch. I'm wondering if I leave the bolts loose, maybe it will pull the sides in some instead of keeping that edge rigid. However non of the splits were at an edge so far. all were in the body between the center and say 1/2" from the edge.

My tree is usually 7-8'. There's a lot of those big Toll Brothers  development homes in our area with the giant 12'-20' foyers and family rooms where an 6' tree looks like a table top display.

The pict may make it look bigger than it is. The bead board paneling spacing is a bit less than 2" IIRC. I want to say overall height of the "icicles" is maybe 7-8". I used 6" of stock to start with. Larger stock was 1/8" and the smaller stock is 1/16" rod. I've seen a lot of wooden commercial ornaments that are larger/heavier than these are.


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I have never had much luck trying this unsupported. I have never tried a sphere but have done small ornamental shapes. Seems like I have managed the most "stretch" when it was done against a hard surface. I feel like I could control where I was drawing material from that way. I think this is a great project and since I have so much copper in the décor of my house, I will be watching this progress. Please keep us posted.


The other ornaments are wonderful. I like that ideas as well.  Thanks for sharing.

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The basic idea came from an off hand comment to another student by my instructor this summer on how to do a sphere. We didn't have the tools/ time or equipment to make the jig, but he commented that if you cut a circle out of a steel plate and dished in it, you could use that to regulate the outside diameter so the two halves would match. He was doing steel, but I can't see why it wouldn't work with copper that gets dealt with in a similar manor for dishing. I've seen steel done with a press using a jig similar to what I made. I sort of combined the two ideas to see what would work. I have a small arbor press I might be able to use with this, but I haven't located where I hid all the parts after I moved. 


I've also seen things like this done using hydro forming where water pressure is used to stretch the stock. To do that all I should need to do is make up a matching flat plate and drill that for the water to come in and set it up for the water connection. I may do a pressure test simply using air and fill the hose with water if I can get another piece of scrap plate that size. It shouldn't take a lot of air pressure to distort copper.

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I like the Idea of folded copper for a snowflake anneal fold cut maybe anneal again unfold -- if you do show us the out come

I have done leaves of all kinds out of copper - steel - ss - brass textured & small ross's

some day going to try a snowman outa thin tube  with guillotine tool & paint

? do you work copper hot or Heat & cool with water then work ? for youre dish -- another way to get there is use a sewage block ladle / spoon pastern  -- Saltfork smith have one Sweet ! swage block for sale for that & price is not bad

somewhere Glen I think did a star demo to years ago

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   I've been doing the copper either from dead cold to start, or hot after I annealed it. Should I cool after heating? This copper stuff is all new to me. My typical experience with copper is soldering pipes. Hmmm... now there's a possibility for the tree topper I hadn't thought of yet. Copper pipe would do nicely as the socket and I may have some heavy #6 or #8 ground wire that would make a twisted basket. Maybe I'll play with some of that and the DC tig. I haven't had the need to tig weld copper yet.

I hadn't thought about a ladle swage. A Salt Fork swage and cone are on the want list. I figure if I get one, I ought to get both at the same time to save on shipping. I had really hoped they'd have been at ABANA last year in Delaware so I could grab them and not have to deal with shipping.

I'm trying to remember if the Green/Mengel swages I saw there at ABANA had a ladle shape to them.  I almost bought one of them last year, but they aren't too far from Cabela's out near me and I can always use an excuse to go to Cabela's! I didn't see a reason to drag a big hunk of iron around all day for no reason if I didn't absolutely have to.

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YEP just heat to a Dull red & then throw in the slack tub that will soften it - then work it will work harden the more you work with it you will hear a higher pitch & the metal will stop moving easily just re heat and cool as many time as needed :o

Tig welding copper -- use copper elce wire for welding rod I do this alot on small things

I dont use a cone much & have one 3" OD  the swage block I use often

Edited by IronWolf
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Thanks. I noticed the higher pitch as I was working the material, so I had a feeling I was getting close to what I could get away with. It didn't occur to me to cool the copper after heating though. I guess I was still thinking "steel" where when it's hot it likes to move more and when it's cold it's less likely to move. I think I have enough left to do one more disk, so maybe I'll get a chance to play again with this late in the week.

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