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Up Topic Welding Industry / General Welding Discussion / bent metal sculpture -- heat up to unbend?
- - By bentmetal Date 08-12-2009 22:36
I bought a metal (brass?) Raindrops Sculpture by curtis jere on ebay that was bent during shipping.  I'm looking for advice about whether to apply heat before trying to unbend it and how (blow torch?). Thx -  bent and twisted in canada
Parent - - By Lawrence (*****) Date 08-12-2009 22:43
That is probably something of particular value you have.

I would really research before you make any changes!

The Mysterious Curtis Jere may not be directly contacted with ease but you might try asking these folks for advice on how best to proceed.
Parent - - By jim parker (**) Date 08-13-2009 11:08 Edited 08-13-2009 11:15
Some very nice sculptures. I just had to post that last pic!
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Parent - By jwright650 (*****) Date 08-13-2009 12:21
Jim those were some neat pictures with lots of metal working talent exhibited, well, all but that really scary looking one.
Parent - By jwright650 (*****) Date 08-13-2009 12:23
Do you have some pics of this "raindrops" sculpture? Sure would like to see it.
Parent - By TimGary (****) Date 08-13-2009 13:06
Where is Artgirl (Bettye) when you need her?
All cars calling Bettye... where are you Bettye...?
Parent - By jrw159 (*****) Date 08-13-2009 13:21
I would also like to see a pic of the piece. I did a search and saw some really nice stuff. I do not know the value of this piece, but if it is high in value you may want to consider having someone who specializes in art pieces do the repair/restoration so as not to run the risk of doing something that would result in the piece losing value. (Yeah I watch "Antiques Road Show") LOL

jrw159 :-)
Parent - By rlitman (***) Date 08-13-2009 14:29
Well, here are a few questions you need to ask yourself before you do anything.

What is this really made of (is it copper, brass, plated steel, etc.)?
How is it held together (brazed, soldered,etc.)?
What is the nature of the surface (patinated, painted, enameled, something else.)?
How would a repair affect the value of the piece (probably less than the damage, but not necessarily)?

I looked on eBay, and wasn't sure if I found yours.  Is it the one with the trees, park fence, and umbrellas.  Some of this stuff is very pretty.

Anyway, mild steel is very tolerant of being bent back cold.  If it turns out to be plated steel, it can usually be bent a few times cold before breaking.  Just be careful, and don't play with it too much.

As for brass and copper, that's more of a sticky point.  In an annealed state, brass and copper are very "plastic".  In a hardened state, they can be as brittle as an eggshell (although if your piece bent once without breaking, it didn't start out quite that bad).  Unfortunately, copper and its alloys get increasingly hard as they're "worked", so the act of bending your piece, made it more likely to break on the next bend.
Heat, can be useful here, but NOT for bending the piece hot.  Just because it is softer and easier to bend when warm/hot, does not mean it is less likely to break.
Heat can be used to anneal the metal, so it is pliable once again, but at those temperatures, you risk melting any solder holding the piece together, and even possibly melting brazed joints. 
Even more importantly, ANY application of heat with a torch will trash the surface finish, and leave very visible marks that a torch was used.
IF the finish is polished, then you may be able to just polish it back up again. If it had a patina, that may be irreparable.  Paint (look out for clear finishes used to seal metal and prevent oxidation, such as urethane, lacquer, or acrylic), will burn almost instantly too).

If it were mine, I'd bend it back cold.  The hardest part about applying heat (which would be necessary to weld/braze/solder a broken piece back together, OR to anneal the metal), is restoring the finish to where it is not visibly changed. 
Parent - - By bentmetal Date 08-13-2009 21:38
Thanks to all. Here are some pics of the sculpture.
Parent - - By BryonLewis (****) Date 08-13-2009 23:05
Interesting piece.  What did you pay for it?
Parent - - By bentmetal Date 08-14-2009 02:00
About $300 US  -- it should be very fine once I straighten it out a bit.  I am a big fan of the late Jerry Fels aka "Curtis Jere". 
Parent - - By DaveBoyer (*****) Date 08-14-2009 03:24
Don't heat it, those colors on it are the result of heat. If You heat it You will loose the colors. My guess is it will straighten OK out cold.
Parent - By waccobird (****) Date 08-14-2009 12:33
I concur with Dave
Parent - By jwright650 (*****) Date 08-14-2009 12:47
I agree with Dave also. Appears to have been brazen/brazed rather than welded, so if you accidentaly applied too much heat, it may come apart at the seams.
Parent - By jrw159 (*****) Date 08-14-2009 13:00
Yeah, after seeing the pic's of the piece, disregard my suggestion of having a professional do it. Just bend it back without applying heat. Wrap a rag around it and use a crescent wrench or something to bend it back.

Parent - By rlitman (***) Date 08-14-2009 14:21
That's steel, cut with a torch, and bronze brazed together.
The neat coloration on the steel, comes from the heat of the torch from when it was cut.  If you heat it again, you will permanently alter that coloration.

That's steel.  Its very unlikely to get damaged if you try to bend it back.  Just be very careful to NOT put any stress on the joints.  They can be brittle, and may tear without warning.

One thing I do, to flatten pieces (it won't get you -all- the way there, but it will get you pretty close), is to put a soft block of wood on each side, and use a clamp or vice to crush it back into shape. 
Up Topic Welding Industry / General Welding Discussion / bent metal sculpture -- heat up to unbend?

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