Creative Metal Forming with Betty Helen Longhi

Wow, what a week I had attending Betty Helen Longhi’s Getaway Workshop. Betty shared her beautiful lakeside home, studio and tools along with an outstanding presentation on the history of Shell Forming that she learned first hand from the original developer.

Heikki Seppa, developed the metal forming technique called Shell forming and trained Betty Helen to create fluidly sculptural pieces applied in smaller scales for dynamic jewelry and larger scale for vessels and hollow ware and even larger scale for sculpture. Heikki considered several specific aspects that highly contributed to the technique of Shell Forming.

These considerations included the every increasing costs of material and equipment. Heikki understood these costs had a tremendous impact on the metal workers and found several ways to ease the financial burden. One in the metals used and two in the stakes. Since the technique creates volume in the design metal workers wereable to use thinner sheets of metal reducing the per ounce cost on a given project Additionally, Heikki introduced the use of wood blocks and stakes further reducing the costs to the metal artist. Afterwards, several of Heikki students exceled in the world of jewelry, hollow ware and sculpture. So inspiring to us metal workers and goal more attainable.

Betty kindly instructed us on the techniques of our choice with demos and let us attempt them on our own. She emphasized important points while she encouraged and guided each of us in our individual pursuits. Betty was also interested in our prior metal work reviewing actual pieces if we brought them or slides and inquired on how Shell Forming will be incorporated into our individual style. She’d steer us in the right direction if we became confused, such as explaining the purpose behind each choice of either hammer or stake to meet the needs of the design. With her assistance and having the entire week immersed in craft, aside from meal and happy hour on her private dock :), I was really able to grasp the concepts and move in the direction I have long admired in the jewelry industry.

For further reading on Shell Forming, I highly recommend “Creative Metal Forming” co-​written by Betty Helen Longhi and Cynthia Eid.
See Creative Metal Forming on Facebook and where ever books are sold.

The photograph shows some my workshop accomplishments. Upon my arrival home I immediately began carving and shaping for my future designs.

Until next time, when I’ll reveal what I’ve carved and how it applies to my work!

Happy Metal Smithing!!!