Working in sheet metal appeals very strongly to all craft-workers. There are a great variety of methods in which it can be treated. First there is the bending and beating of the metal into all kinds of useful articles, and then the decision of how it shall be ornamented. It can be beaten on the wrong side, and the design pushed out with a hammer, when it is called "Repousse," or it can have the design eaten out with an acid, which is known as "Etched Metal." Another process is the cutting out of the design with a fret saw. This is called "cut" or "pierced" brass, and is the method I will now describe. It is most fascinating work to do, and is creating much interest among all craft-workers. It is not as difficult as it looks, and a good deal of very decorative work can be done with a simple equipment at a comparatively low cost. A rough table or shelf, if there is no work-bench in the house, can be made use of, and attached to it must be a metal vice.
The following list of tools will be required for piercing, or other forms of metal work: -
One pair of metal shears for cutting the metal.
Several files and pliers (both round and flat).
No. 40 hand drill.
Sheet-metal-worker's saw, or an ordinary scroll saw.
These few tools will cost about $3.00. The metal market is so fluctuating that list prices cannot be guaranteed, however. These tools can usually be obtained from kindergarten supply shops, but if an ironmonger's shop is available, the tools can probably be bought at less cost from it. They can also be had from artist colourmen, who often supply sets of tools for metal-workers.
The following materials must also be provided: -
Soft sheets of copper, any thickness from 20 to 24.
A hard-wood block, 9" x 12" x 2".
Metal block, 3" x 4" x 1" (the latter may be picked up at an iron foundry or stove store), or a household iron can be used.
Pierced Copper Made By Students Of The Forest Craft Guild.
Shade And Lamp Designed And Executed By Student Of The Forest Craft Guild.
Copper rivets, and some 20-, 10-, and 6-penny wire nails.
Having provided the above necessaries, the worker can take up not only cut brass, but all the other methods of working up sheet metal.
One of the simplest pieces to begin on is a lamp shade. A suitable lamp must be selected either in metal or pottery. Beautiful odd pieces of Teco or Japanese ware can often be found, and these can have a copper or brass fount fitted to them. These founts come in several sizes, and can be found in stores where lamp supplies are carried. After the lamp is provided, the shade must be made to suit the contour of the lamp. Notice how beautifully proportioned the lamp illustrated is. The vase is of green pottery, and the fount and lamp shade are of copper. Under the shade are panels of green grass.
The first thing to do when making a shade is to plan the design. Suppose the lamp is one of medium size. A good measurement for the shade would be the following: -
Circumference at the bottom
Top horizontal edge ....
It is best to cut out the panels in Bristol board, and plan the design on the sheet. If the worker has no knowledge of design, she will have to adapt bought ones to her special needs. Braided patterns can sometimes be utilized, and are often quite bold. They come on tissue paper, and have to be transferred by means of a warm iron. Then there are a great many good designs in the needlework department of the large drapery shops. Failing to find what is needed, try an artist colour-man who supplies designs for pyrography. Sometimes they are suitable for metal. There is no doubt that those who understand designing get much more individuality into their work by making their own designs. In looking at the illustration of the shade, it will be noticed that there is a margin all round each panel. This must always be there for any design for cut brass; it serves as a frame to which the motif is joined to the border of the metal. Notice how pleasingly the spaces in this shade are broken up. There are no sharp corners, nothing but beautiful harmonious curves.
To make a shade, procure a piece of copper or brass of any thickness between 20 and 24. As glass is to go behind the metal, 21-gauge would be the best to select; then lay the Bristol board pattern on the sheet of metal, and go round the pattern with one of the sharp-pointed tools, or a nail. When all the panels are indicated on the metal, cut them out with the shears, leaving half an inch at the bottom for bending over. Make four tracings of the design on the Bristol board in ink by means of Japanese rice paper. Now paste these on to the panels with stiff flour paste. When dry, they are ready for sawing.
Bore a hole through every background space with the hand drill. Then insert the saw, the free end being pushed through the metal, and fasten it to the other end of the saw frame. Now hold the metal, and fasten it to the other end of the saw frame, holding the metal on the table with the left hand. Then begin to saw with the right, turning the metal from time to time as the direction of the line changes. Hold the blade in a vertical position. At first the sawing is difficult, but after a little practice the saw moves easily. It is a good thing to put a little beeswax on it every now and then. When all the spaces have been sawn out, soak the paper off the panels, and then file the edges of each opening. Now take strips of paper seven-eighths of an inch wide and fold. Then bend it to an angle, and fit it over one corner, marking where the bottom and top of the shade will be. Then cut the strip for the pattern. Now cut from the metal four pieces the same size, and in them bore a double row of holes for the rivets one-sixteenth of an inch from the edge (not in the centre of the strip as in the shade illustrated, as this way is not so easy for the beginner). Choose a rivet with a head one-eighth of an inch, which is a useful size. A drill for making the rivet must have been provided. It is very important that the pin fits snugly into the rivet holes, and they will need filing as they will be a bit rough. The top and bottom of each panel must be hammered with the wooden mallet on the edge of the block, to bend it at an angle; later this will be bent up, to make a neat finish at the top and bottom of the shade. Some workers prefer to bend the metal for the corners when it is held in the vice, instead of just holding it on the block, but the choice must be left to the worker. The corners of each panel will need the turned-over pieces riveted; the corners can be pinched firmly together with nippers. The rivets must be put inside the shade, which Candle shades are usually made in the same way, or, if preferred, they can be in one round piece, when they will only need riveting at the joint. The experience gained in making one with four sides will make the round ones seem very easy. A glass shade can be used underneath, or silk can be placed over isinglass, and the metal shade over these. The isinglass and plain silk shades can be bought ready-made, as they are much used under silver shades for the dinner-table. Grass cloth also makes a nice lining for metal candle shades, but these are not so heavy as glass. They do not come ready-made, but are quite easy to make on a frame: the grass cloth can be obtained from a good paper-hanger, who will often clear out remnants at small prices.