Fine Art Behind-the-Scenes: Fold Forming

Janice Stiles

Fold forming is a metalworking technique in which metal is folded, alternately annealed and forged repeatedly, and unfolded. Following this process, each piece of metal assumes a completely different and unique three-dimensional form.

Forging is the process of shaping metal via hammering, rolling, or pressing.

Annealing is a heating process that softens metal to allow for reshaping through various techniques. No solder is used with the metal while it is being fold formed.

Fold forming begins with a sheet of metal—I typically use 24-gauge copper or silver. At this point, the metal needs to be dead soft, as it hardens quickly during the fold-forming process. Each hammer strike “work hardens” the metal, which makes it increasingly more difficult to work with.

Some tools used in this process include a steel bench block, on which to hammer, and a fine-edge rivet hammer, with which to form a nice edge once it's unfolded.

Fold forming lends itself well to combination with other techniques.

Patina is often used to enhance the texture of fold-formed pieces, as it gives it greater depth.

Reticulated sterling can be set atop fold-formed copper to add additional drama and flair.

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Reminiscent of Viking treasure with an air of modern sophistication, this pendant is designed for everyday wear. With visible evidence of flame torching, no two pendants are alike, but all are similarly reticulated in sterling silver over copper to create a rich fine art jewelry sculpture piece. This piece won't look out of place anywhere--in fact, it roots its wearer to both the distant past and the bright future, a perfect adornment for someone looking to make big plans.

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If you have any further questions about this technique, or if you'd like to work together to create a custom piece of fine art jewelry featuring fold-formed metal, reach out to me at!

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