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Explorations in Metalsmithing: Hollow Fabrication

Lesson 5 of 22

Design Considerations: Making Paper Models and Thinking Three Dimensionally

Megan Auman

Explorations in Metalsmithing: Hollow Fabrication

Megan Auman

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Lesson Info

5. Design Considerations: Making Paper Models and Thinking Three Dimensionally

Lesson Info

Design Considerations: Making Paper Models and Thinking Three Dimensionally

So the first thing I want you guys to just start thinking about is kind of our design considerations and thinking three dimensionally in metal. Ya know we really in the past couple of courses we kind of like scratched the surface of some of the forming you can do with metal, but this is first class where we're really truly I think thinking three dimensionally. And so when you're envisioning things I want you to start to think about all of the possibilities. So metal is actually, I'm gonna like geek out for half a second, metal is so cool. Because you can actually do so much stuff with it, and it also stays when you put it somewhere. We were discussing yesterday when we wrapped, someone asked me about precious metal clay, and I was like "I don't do that, cause its too smushy." Right, I don't like the smushy materials. But what I love about metal is that it moves it bends it can be really fluid, but it also has that structural stability. So when we're thinking about thinking three dimens...

ionally in metal you can kind of think about it in two ways, one is metal as a plane and one is metal as plastic. So what I mean by that, is that metal as a plane is that you can use metal to create surfaces. Right, we have a plane here, we have a layer. And so any thing you can think about, okay, I can take a plane, I can put another plane next to it. I can build that way, so metal does that. Right, it creates those surfaces. And a lot of hollow fabrication is really about creating surfaces. But then the other beauty of metal is that it moves, it has that plastic capability to it. And so of course if we're looking at these example rings clearly to get these round forms in here and even to get this sort of round form in our cone shape which I'm gonna teach you guys how to make cause, again this is some stuff I geek out over here. So like we're gonna learn how to make a cone pattern and its gonna be so fun. But so we start to kind of take advantage of the way that metal can move. But as I'm going to show you guys in a minute, ya know metal can really be formed also very three dimensionally, and we're not gonna get super in to that as an advanced technique, but we're gonna use some of these fun tools here to start to shape our metal three dimensionally. So really when you start to think about how to create different forms in metal, almost anything is doable if you kind of know that either it can be either a plane or it could be formed and you start to break it down. So when you guys are starting to think about ideas, you know, I want you to think about, Okay, not "This is the shape that Megan taught me, how can I repeat this?" But, "What shapes do I wanna make?" And then figuring out how to make them. And really my attitude with a lot of this stuff is like, "Lets try it and see" If we haven't made a form like that before, lets just try it, ya know and I'm gonna introduce you guys to our good friend the sandbag here. And a lot of my attitude is like "Well lets just go put some metal on there and hammer on it and see what happens." Right? So we're gonna talk about how metal moves a little bit. So you can kind of control that, but really at the end of the day I want you guys to kind of think about infinite possibilities. And so one of the best ways to do that is by making paper models, so I want to talk a little bit about how I kind of worked through the design process and think about paper models. Because, again, this is like apparently the class of things that Megan geeks out over. And one of them for sure is making paper models. Because the thing is, first of all if you can make it in paper, you can make it in metal. See that's a really cool way to think about it is that I can construct it in paper there's gotta be a way I can construct it in metal. And truthfully you can actually do more with metal than you can with paper because obviously paper, without obviously getting into fancy things like papier-mâché, paper ya know as a sheet of paper can't be formed in even the way that metal can. But its a good way to start thinking about it. So as you're playing with paper models, and I'm just gonna kind of show you guys a little bit of sort of the process that I might go through. One of the things you can think about is the kind of seams that you're gonna be using. So if you're not gonna be soldering, and I wanna kind of help you guys think three dimensionally here, even if you don't have access to a torch, even if you can't ya know solder something. You can still think about using metal three dimensionally. So if you're using something that's not soldered you're probably thinking about either just bending things and having them stay in place, or if you've got seams, you're thinking about overlapping them. Just you know so that things touch, so that things line up, but then anytime we're soldering we're generally thinking about a butt seam. So when two ends of the metal meet together or when an end comes into a plane like this right. So that's the one thing that you wanna think about as you're making your paper models. So I really like to use paper model making as just a way to kind of do some creative freedom and just kind of experiment. So one of the coolest things I think you can do, and I'm not saying that any of this is what you have to do, but this is a good way to kind of get your brain warmed up. Start by thinking about what happens if I just take a shape out of paper, and what are the things that I can do with that shape in terms of bending or forming or cutting into it to create different things. So if I take, I'm not gonna cut one out yet because I already have one cut out. So if I just take a circle here, what happens if I just roll it up, right so if I roll it up and it kind of, let me move that out of the way so you can see it against the dark. So if I roll it up and it kind of makes like an even tube, right that's possible. What happens if I roll it kind of at an angle. So now I've got this little thing here and maybe that becomes a pendant, or maybe that becomes an earing. So you can start to play with these shapes and see what happens. Or maybe I take that same circle, and I fold up the edges, this absolutely something that I can do with metal. Right, so I could fold up these edges, and now doesn't this make like the coolest broach? Right, stick a little pin back on there, we're gonna do that later. Stick a little pin back on there turn that into a broach. For those of you who watch the class, this is a great little place to put some patina. So those of you who were in the last class, I'm gonna make you guys jealous if you missed it. That's a great place to put a little patina there. So you know think about what I can do just by folding. And then some times I like to think about if I take my shapes and what happens if I, you know, cut into them. So what if I, you know drew a couple lines in here, that I just cut into with my saw. And obviously what I love about paper models is you can start to kind of play and figure this stuff out in a way that's much faster than sawing out a bunch of circles. Now obviously, it's not that difficult to saw out a bunch of circles and I've got a whole pile here that we're gonna play with later. But this is a great way to test through ideas. So what if I cut this out and cut into these. This is one of those games where I could seriously sit and make paper models for hours and in fact I have. So then what happens if I ya know, just do a couple cuts and start to folding things up and around right. So if I fold these up, okay so that's ya know kind of making more of a box shape. Sort of interesting I feel like if it was maybe smaller it would make a really cool little post earring. Its a little big, and I like big earrings but I think its a little big for that. But so what happens if I make it a little smaller I could do that, or maybe I could turn it into a little ring put it on a little ring shank. So there's a lot of different things that you could play with here, and then even what happens if I start to really like take big chunks out of my circles. So if I kind of do this little sort of cone shape, and again we're gonna talk about how to create a real cone pattern if you're soldering But I like to think about playing with this, I don't know why I'm cutting out the whole circle when I just need the middle part. So if I cut out this shape here, and what happens if I, once I cut this guy out, if I do something like folding it and bending It, what kind of shape does that get me? So lets see if I fold this and then I kind of fold it like around so suddenly I could make this little kind of, again like a different kind of little cone shape. Put that on our little sheet there. So I could have this little cone shape, and again maybe that becomes an earring or a pendant. And so you know you start to just think about kind of these different ideas that you can do with ya know metal because if you can build it in paper you can build it in metal. So that's the first thing, is just using paper models as a way to play and experiment. But then you might also want to use paper models as a way to get information. So for example when we're thinking about our hollow fabricated rings, there's two different ways that you might approach a paper model. And one is first of just to think about the profile shape, because you can tell a lot by figuring out is it comfortable. So I drew a couple sketches of like could I make these into rings. And I actually for the inner band on this I traced the ring that I was wearing just so that I would know that this was my size. But so now instead of having to construct a three dimensional ring what I might do, is just cut out this sketch, so if I cut this out even just as a thin piece of paper this is gonna give me some information about how comfortable this design might be as a ring. Alright you guys can see my awkward scissoring skills. I think I'm faster with a jewelers saw. So if I cut this out, this is where an exacto knife would be real handy, but that's okay we'll make it work. So if I cut this out then I can use this to see like okay ya know, the width of this area if I put this on my finger if I'd actually cut out the right size you know, how comfortable is this, right? Like what happens when I have this on here? So you can start to do paper models just of your profiles to figure out if you like this shape. Am I gonna like that this big, kind of bubble sticks up here, I personally kind of do. You know you can think about is that something that you would like? And then if you wanna take that information further, then you can go ahead and actually construct the wall. So here I actually made something that's closer to the width of the walls, and that's what we're gonna do, so kind of spoiler alert on our ring sample here. The way that we actually construct this is by constructing the walls first and then putting the faces on it. I like to think about it as like building cookie cutters, and the putting faces on. So you can kind of build your cookie cutter and then say "Okay how is this comfortable on my hand?" Right, does that, do I like the way that feels am I okay with that, is the width okay? Is the size that it hangs off my fingers alright? And then of course sometimes that gives you other ideas, I'm like "Oh well this little one fits on my pinky now." So like, what happens if I build that? What happens if I put it that way? So you can start to kind of play but you can also get information. Because the one thing is, ya know this hollow fabrication process that we're gonna be doing, its a multi-step process. So there's definitely a time investment. And you wanna know that you're gonna be happy with the ring that you're making, or the locket or the broach, or whatever it is you wanna know that you're gonna be happy with it before you invest, ya know a little bit of time in to make it. So spending a few minutes making your paper models, is really going to kind of help open it up. And this is a great, ya know for those of you who are looking for a way to kind of expand your creativity, maybe one you're like not ready to go full on into metal smithing tools but you want to think about the concepts, this is a great like I'm sitting on the couch watching T.V. playing around, you know its a great way to think about this. I am not a huge sketcher. I think its something that like you hear a lot from people like "Oh you must sketch all the time." For me this is my form of sketching, right. Playing with paper, playing with forms, thinking three dimensionally, this is how I sketch. I have like boxes of paper models at home. So you know, I think if you're looking for a different outlet for your creativity this is a really fun one to explore and play with. So any questions about model making or is it starting to spark any ideas for you guys? A question from out here while these folks are thinking. Can you tell us a little bit about the general weight of the paper that you're using? Yeah so this is, its a little bit thicker than computer paper, but its not like pure cardboard its basically like card stock weight. I buy like the big packs of card stock at the craft store, but also in a pinch especially if you're working a little bit bigger, I love like thin frozen pizza boxes, or even cereal boxes. All of those make really great paper model material too. Great, and you did mention exacto earlier. Yes. That can be a nice tool to use when you're building these correct? Yeah absolutely, yeah so can use an exacto or any kind of other knife if you want a little bit more precision as you're making these, for obvious reasons I flew here, so ya know it didn't occur to me to bring that I have scissors so that's what I'm using but if you want a little bit more precision, for me its normally more about idea of play. But if you're the kind of person who wants a really exact paper model before you start building in metal, an exacto is a great way to go. And then you're probably also bringing out a ruler you're scoring, you're measuring, how close do you need to get to that final product? You know, it kind of depends on you and your own temperament, so like when I did this kind of stuff I was, like none of this I did with a ruler. Like what you saw me do here is literally what I did on the bed of my hotel room like two nights ago, when I was like lets make some paper models and get ready. So for me I don't use that kind of precision when I'm in this model making phase. When I get to metal, absolutely you're gonna see me pull out the ruler, you're gonna see me measure, you're gonna see me get into that. So if you need that in your paper models definitely do it, but like I made this by literally eyeballing, and cutting a strip. But again, in metal I'm definitely gonna measure it. But in paper I personally am a little less exact. Cool and one last question regarding sizing, same kind of thing right, when you do your sizing for the ring you'll do that when you're building the actually ring not as much when you're doing the design. Right exactly, so when I'm building the actual ring I'll do sizing and we'll talk exactly about how to size your rings, because there's definitely a process, we wanna get the ring sizing right, but like I said when I did this little mockett, I actually just took, I literally took the ring that was on my finger off my finger, laid it on here, like laid it on my paper and just traced it.

Class Description

There’s nothing quite like the magic of turning a two-dimensional sheet of metal into a three-dimensional form. In Explorations in Metalsmithing: Hollow Fabrication, you’ll learn how to create volume in metal through various forming and soldering techniques and how to take those forms and turn them into unique jewelry that will turn heads!

In this one of a kind class, designer and metalsmith Megan Auman will show you how to take your jewelry making skills to the next level to create unique and distinctive designs.

In this class, you will learn how to:

  • Make three-dimensional forms in metal - including spheres, cones, and organic shapes, and more.
  • Use hollow fabrication techniques to create your own ring.
  • Tackle more complicated soldering projects. (Without investing in more tools.)
  • Finish your forms so they’re sturdy and stunning.
  • Turn your hollow fabrication explorations into amazing earrings, bracelets, and pendants.

Whether you’re just getting started in metalsmithing, or you’ve been dabbling for years, you’ll leave this class with the skills and ideas necessary to take your jewelry designs to the next level. Plus, you’ll learn how to create distinctive three-dimensional jewelry - perfect to wear, share, or sell! Join us for Explorations in Metalsmithing: Hollow Fabrication!



After watching Megan solder in this class, I felt like it was something I could take on. There's a lot of soldering in this class! But there's also a lot you can do without soldering that's covered. I have a better understanding of how jewelry is made from this class. I'm looking at things that I own and thinking that I now know how to recreate them!

Silvia Rossi

I liked this course, Megan explains a lot of things about techniques and materials and it's simple follow all the operations to create these types of rings. I think I'd purchase other classes of her.