Fold forming is a versatile hammering technique for beginners and advanced metalsmiths alike. This freeform approach to jewelry design allows you to start simple and continue toward more complex folds. Here, I'm going to take you through making a pair of earrings with just one fold. I'm going to assume that you already know a few basics, like annealing, drilling, and polishing. These earrings will be asymmetrical. Each earring will be unique, but compliment one another.
To begin the earrings, you are going to need some sterling silver discs, about 1 inch or 2.5 cm in diameter. They should be dead soft. If they aren't, anneal anneal and pickle. Use thin metal, 24 gauge or thinner.
Take your clean silver disc and hold it over the edge of your anvil and hit it to bend the disc roughly in half.
Lay the bent disc on your anvil and hammer it down flat against itself. Anneal and pickle the disc. In the picture above you see annealed discs at top left, the disc in progress in the middle, and flattened discs on the right.
Next, slide a knife or other edged tool into the fold to separate it.
You need to open the fold enough so that when you hammer it down on the horn of the anvil, both sides will separate.
Place the open side down on a small anvil horn and hit the fold down vertically over the folded edge. You will begin to see the half moon shape open up into a leaf-like form.
Next, hold one side along the horn of the anvil and hammer it to give it shape and texture. You can experiment here with different hammers and angles. Repeat on the other side.
A light weight cross pien hammer is my favorite hammer for this technique. The earrings on the left are opened and ready for final hammering. The ones on the right side are hammered to shape and ready for the next step.
This is how they look after some finishing steps. I've drilled a hole where I want the top of the earring to be. I sanded down rough edges, oxidized them with liver of sulphur, and then polish them.
Thread ear wires through the drilled hole and close the ear wire for the final step.