by John Brana May 28, 2014
Fold forming is a collection of techniques developed and pioneered by Charles Lewton-Brain. These fold forming techniques are now being used in a wide array of jewelry styles, from earrings to bracelets. During the process of fold forming, sheets of metal are hammered and annealed into three-dimensional shapes without any soldering. While only a couple decades old – hailing back to the 1980s – this metalsmithing process employs metal’s plasticity to create complex forms. Fold forming has become widely recognized as a new approach to jewelry-making and metal-working all over the world. Modern fold forming is considered a combination of traditional metalwork and origami. It’s about allowing the metal to fold in natural ways according to its plasticity, instead of forcing form. When one does not fight to form the metal, forming becomes extremely rapid and efficient. Highly complex relief forms can be produced with just a single sheet of metal and a few tools, including your hands, fingers, mallets, hammers, anvils, and rolling mills. Fold forming techniques can be used with a wide range of metals, including steel, niobium, and aluminum. They are often used in enameling, holloware, and jewelry as there is no soldering required.
Names are given to the basic folds in the process of fold forming. These may include T-Folds, Line-Folds, Rueger Folds, and Cross-Folds, among others. Both traditional and non-traditional metals can be used in fold forming. Copper is an ideal medium, often used in jewelry, for its brilliant luster and versatility. While fold forms are beautiful in themselves, they are often used as components in more complex pieces. Once basic folds have been mastered, fold forms can be manipulated, sliced, and rejoined.
Form folding is an art form that provides quick and gratifying results and lead to fresh and innovative design ideas in jewelry and other objects. While there are a set of basic fold-forms known, each can be taken in many directions. It’s entirely possible to create a form that has never been done before. Due to their uniqueness and beautiful qualities, fold formed jewelry makes for the perfect gift idea for any occasion.
The Rolex Awards for Enterprise, The British Museum Research Lab, and several others have certified the process of fold forming as new and has never been done in the history of metal working. Fold forming is unlike traditional forms of jewelry as they have more texture and creative properties that make them must-have pieces in every jewelry box.
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