cuttin and bending metal filigree embellishments feature

Tip of the Week: How to Cut and Bend Your Metal Filigrees

Good morning, everyone!  Well, it’s Thursday again so you know what that means, right?  …time for another tip, trick, technique or tutorial!  YIPPEE!!!  So, you’ve probably caught on to the fact that I am trying to work from the ground up for those of you that have not worked with metal that much.  For those of you who are a bit more experienced, I hope that I am still managing to offer you some inspiration…AND, if you have anything to add, please leave me a comment 🙂

Today, I have a couple of quick tips that I hope will help expand the way you use ButterBeeScraps’ metal filigrees 🙂  …I’m talking about working in 3 dimensions now…bwahahahahah 😛

Cutting Metal Filigrees

First of all, did you know that the metal filigrees can be easily cut using a sharp pair of scissors?  I, personally, would not recommend you use your best sewing scissors or anything, but the Tonic Studios non-stick serrated scissors work great!  Of course, if you are hard core, you could also invest in a pair of metal shears 😉

One thing to keep in mind when you are cutting metal…it is EXTREMELY sharp!  …so wearing a thin pair of work gloves may be in order.  After your metal is cut, make sure you file the edges so no little fingers or unsuspecting other person (including yourself a few hours down the road) will cut themselves either (trust me on this one…I’m a slow learner and still slice my fingers up!)  You can use sandpaper, emery boards or metal files…again, if you are hard core 😛

Bending Metal Filigrees

How do I bend thee?  …let me count the ways…

Yes…there are endless ways you can bend your metal filigrees.  You can just go free-form and use your fingers, but if you want a little more control, I have a couple of useful tips that will help.

If you’re looking to bend your filigree in a straight line, you can’t just bend it like you would a piece of paper…trust me, I’ve tried. …and the result? …no bueno!  For a perfect straight bend exactly where you want it…every single time…just simply use a straight edge or ruler 🙂  …just like so:

bending metal filigrees

If you’re wanting to bend your filigree with a large radius (to use as a bracelet, for example), there are all sorts of common household items you could use as a form – like one of the multitude of spray and glue bottles you probably have in your craft room.  If you’re into jewelry making like myself, you already know that a bracelet mandrel would be an obvious choice for making large radii.

To bend your filigree with a tighter radius, however, you’re going to have to invest in some round nose or bail-forming pliers.  If you’re not familiar with the difference, the round nose pliers have a tapered jaw on them while bail-forming pliers do not.  Bail-forming pliers also come in a variety of sizes.

filigree bending pliers

How About Flattening?

And my last tip of the day…sometimes you may have a filigree that has a bit of dimension you don’t want.  Well, there are a couple of easy ways to flatten these babies out 🙂  If it’s a small piece, I would recommend using a pair of nylon jaw pliers.  Any pair of pliers would flatten the metal; however, the nylon jaws ensure that your metal is not scratched in the process.  …you can always “steal” a pair of standard pliers from the other half (if you don’t have any yourself) and wrap the jaws with some electrical tape to prevent the teeth from marring your filigree.

flattening metal filigree embellishments using nylon jaw pliers

If you don’t have or don’t want to invest in a pair of pliers, you can easily run your filigrees through your die-cutting machine to flatten them out.  You may have to experiment with how to build your “sandwich”, but I have a Big Shot and I use the same stack I would for cutting wafer thin dies 🙂  …I must say, the Big Shot does an AMAZING job of creating a nice perfectly flat filigree!

flattening filigrees with big shot

Although working with metal may be a bit intimidating if you are unfamiliar with it, just remember that it is quite forgiving.  You can bend it and re-bend it, if required…to a certain extent.  If you bend metal too much, it will get brittle and crack. …just remember to experiment and have fun 🙂

I hope you stay tuned for more great tips…I’m just starting to get to the good stuff!  If you haven’t tried it, I know you will be working with metal in no time 🙂  …I am (happily) responsible for a few people’s “metal addictions”, and I’d love my list to grow ;P  Thanks for popping by today – I hope you have a great weekend!  Cheers!