Reviews: Creative Metal Forming

Hazel Wheaton, Art Jewelry Magazine

When I first heard that Betty Helen Longhi and Cynthia Eid were writing a book on forming, I knew it would be good. But my already-high expectations fell short of the reality. In his introduction, Michael Good (no slouch in metal forming himself) states that the authors "have succeeded in assembling the first comprehensive textbook on synclastic and anticlastic forming." Which is a low-key way of saying that this book is exhaustive, beautiful, and the must-have volume on forming.

Longhi and Eid pitch their book toward all skill levels, starting with the basics so as to be easily accessible to beginners, and proceeding gradually and thoroughly (as fits their topic) into truly challenging territory by the book's end. Each forming technique covered (synclastic, anticlastic, spiculums, transitions, torqueing, foldforming and raising) begins with a thorough explanation of the process followed by a series of skill-building exercises. The foundation techniques, synclastic and anticlastic forming, are logically given the most space: Each has seven separate, progressively more challenging exercises for the reader to work through before moving on.

This isn't a project book; while some exercises may result in a beautiful formed cuff, or an intriguing shape you can easily suspend as a pendant, the intention throughout is to practice and master technique by exploring how metal moves. Periodic "Beyond the Exercise" blurbs point readers to how they may apply their new skill to a finished object, or how they may explore further. Photographs are used to excellent effect as the authors share not only meticulous process shots but also photos that illustrate the "right" and "wrong" ways to do things. The Appendix is a modestly named reference section that covers making patterns, a guild to soldering, cutting methods, tool making and customization, a rundown of metals, and a guide to refining and finishing; the information in the appendix alone makes the book worth buying.

In short, this is a benchmark book that belongs on every metalworker's shelf.

Review by Crafts Institute, UK

The foreword for this book talks about Professor Heikki Seppä, a Finnish-born metalsmith who revolutionised metal forming when he introduced the technique called anticlastic forming. Also known as reverse raising, this allowed metalworkers to bend sheet metal in any direction. Looking at the photographs of his work, you can see why this was important to him, and his pieces are as stunning as they are unusual. The rest of the book is written in the light of this, creatively using different techniques to fulfill what your imagination longs to form. There are detailed explanations of different tools and materials, followed by a host of technique to try, from how to hold your hammer to planishing and boughing (smoothing). There are colorful photographs throughout to inspire you, and exercises to practice, with plenty of step images along the way to help you create amazing results. Though the end results are impressive, the book is detailed enough that you can follow along and achieve the same in your own metal forming. Whether you’re brand new to working with metal, or you’re well practiced, there is something in this book for you, and it is essential reading for anyone who wants to improve their metal skills.

Reader Comments

I love the book!! I have bought three copies, gave two away to friends plus I ordered 20 some for my students to purchase at the college. I took a long course with Heiki Seppä at Haystack in 1990, where I also met lovely Betty Longhi. Later I invited Betty to give us a workshop at the New Brunswick College of Craft and Design in Fredericton, NB. Canada. I have been teaching with my many samples and my sketches from Heikki' era, but this book, is the cherry on my cake! Thanks a million.

Creative Metal Forming by Betty Helen Longhi and Cynthia Eid is a beautiful book. The authors remained faithful to the original concepts that Heikki Seppa developed. The photographs in this new book beautifully illustrate the techniques. This volume is an authoritative explanation of shell forming to future generations of metalsmiths.

... an insightful and important contribution for those interested in exploring the knowledge of metal forming. Longhi and Eid bring a new level of accessibility by communicating these processes so well through imagery and their descriptions. Drawing on their combined decades of experience they have succeeded in creating a new milestone for the metal arts field.

Every sentence contains a wealth of information. Betty Helen Longhi and Cynthia Eid have succeeded in conveying effectively all that they know about metalsmithing.
Their generosity in teaching is immense. Even as an amateur hobbyist and occasional student, I recognize that what these two amazing women have to offer is too valuable to ignore.

This book is an inspiration...while I've been making spiculum and all kinds of metal forms for years, I find this book to be a useful and important resource...and a reminder of what is possible.