Seamless Construction

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Using simple tools to make a Heistad cup.

By Charles Lewton Brain

Fold-forming is a hand-working technique applied to single sheets of metal to create surfaces and three-dimensional forms quickly without soldering. It relies on the metal’s plasticity and ductility to make hundreds of complex forms resembling chased, constructed, and soldered shapes. Using thin materials, you can create light, volumetric objects and surfaces. Radical changes in cross-section are possible in only three to five minutes using simple tools such as a hammer, mallet, anvil, vise, rolling mill, and your fingers.

One of my favorite folds is called a Heistad cup. It uses one of the most important principles of fold-forming: Multiple layers worked simultaneously work evenly. Able to be constructed by hand in only three minutes, the cup is a source of mystery to many goldsmiths. They tend to study it for a long time, searching and searching for the nonexistent seam. I have used this technique to make earrings and small bells. Here are the steps: