Friday, January 3, 2014

The creativity of the production process

Before we went on our overseas jaunt I knew that when I returned I needed to make 50 leaf letter openers about 180-200mm in length to fill a commission I agreed to before we went away. I need to have these finished and boxed and posted before Friday 17 Jan.

My Leaf Letter Openers consist of two different leaf forms created from a single strip of metal.

Over the last three days I have been busy marking up, cutting, annealing, bending folding, more cutting and grinding 55 leaf forms (need about 10% of extras for quality purposes).

©2014 Barry Smith - 55 folded leaf forms - ground and ready for hammering
Before leaving I had cut the 55 strips of metal with my side grinder.

©2014 Barry Smith - 55 strips of recycled silver-plated EPNS and copper
I then marked up one side of the leaves using a template Fiona cut for me out of plastic. These were then cut into the half leaf shape and annealed

©2014 Barry Smith - 55 metal strips with half leaf shape cut and annealed
And then bent in half in a vice that has smooth faced jaws so it does not mark the metal - I used a nylon mallet to hammer them..

©2014 Barry Smith - Bending the half leaf forms
©2014 Barry Smith - 55 half leaf forms bent at right angles
The bent forms were then folded in flat on my anvil - covered in duct tape and using the nylon mallet again to stop or reduce marking the metal.

©2014 Barry Smith - folding the leaf forms

I cut the excess metal from the second side of the leaf form and ground all the rough edges off each folded piece. This has resulted in 55 elegant folded pieces of metal.

©2014 Barry Smith - 55 folded leaf forms - ground and ready for hammering

Now I need to: hammer the folded pieces into leaf forms, anneal them again, unfold them and then grind and polish.  Whilst doing these leaf letter openers in bulk reduces the creative joy and input - each is still unique and I enjoy that as I cut, hammer, grind and polish. And I know each individual piece will stand alone and have its own character.

It has been very very hot here today - in direct contrast to the US - we made the break at the right time  but talk about going from one extreme to another. I think a cold white wine is calling.


  1. this is so interesting to read about the making of many objects, an edition.

  2. I love this bundle of leaf forms Barry - almost a shame to have to open them! Of course, I am sure they will be beautiful letter openers too but that formed bundle has a huge appeal. At least you have fabulous photos of them!

  3. B, is this magic or alchemy? Such a wonderful progression and you haven't even finished yet! Ah, yes, didn't you time your home coming well? New York looks very cold...

  4. A lot of work goes into these leaf forms, Barry. I enjoy seeing them all together.

  5. ~b...quite a project to get the new year started! seeing the process and how they are evolving is always fascinating...they are beautiful and unique in their own...each casting their own beauty and light~

  6. These are just wonderful already Barry! If I did work in metal I would have a go at an exchange with you..;o)...Looking forward to seeing the finished openers.

  7. Hi V, SB, C, R B & LAM - thanks for checking out the first creative offerings for 2014 - may we all continue in partnership. V - I agree - does seem to be an edition - maybe I should number them. SB - the budge did look delicious - but the finished stash might also look ok. C - very encouraging comment C & R - it is a time consuming and technical process - not sure many others would attempt it with EPNS - pretty hard to work. B - certainly has got me going with a flurry. LAM - had to smile about your comment re working in metal and doing an exchange. All go well and have a marvellous 2014. B


Comments are welcomed - it is good to connect with fellow travellers.