Past Work

Teapotty: Copper sheet

  Completed teapot  Completed teapot
  Hydraulic press  My initial plan was to "raise" the body of the teapot by beating copper sheet with mallets.

Then it was pointed out to me that the College had a hydraulic press, pictured, which held out the promise of being able to create a lovely smooth surface in a twinkling of an eye - or at least, that's what I conjectured.

It struck me that I could use the same setup to create other teapots - the lead one I had in mind and possibly another tea one.

With the tea one, I knew the Chinese used to compress tea-leaves into "bricks" to store it so I thought a 60 ton hydraulic press might enable me to make a teapot from tea-leaves that was almost ceramic in nature.
 Steel casing for hydraulic press mould
 The flip-side of using a lot of force is that the moulds have to be ultra-strong.

I devised quite a complicated way of making the moulds starting with welding some steel boxes (pictured) and then filling them with reinforced concrete lined with about 20-mm of "Epoxacast", an expoxy resin containing aluminium powder, designed for this kind of use.  (It was expensive - hence my use of concrete).
  moulds for hydrauilic press  Making the moulds was laborious (it took about a month) and expensive (about 200) but this was the end result - a 2 part mould for each half of the teapot. 
  Pressed copper sheet I experimented with 1.5-mm-thick copper sheet   with the result pictured, after several cycles of annealing, beating wrinkles flat and further pressing. 

As a consequence, I decided to use thinner copper, 0.75-mm, and make the handle separately.
  Bent top plate of mould for hydaaulic press Another consequence was the (6-mm-thick) top plate of the mould buckled ...
  Beefier moud for hydraulic press ... so I made much stronger replacements.
  Pressing handle for copper teapot I used a strip of metal and the bottom mould to make the 2 halves of the handle, using a manual hydraulic press.
  handle pressing for copper teapot Pressing needs quite a few cycles of annealing and trimming of excess material.  It also pays to increase the force slowly so the metal can "flow" internally; quite a few of my attempts tore the copper sheet.

  handle for copper teapot I bent a strip of metal to go inside the handle so that I could use wire rivets to hold the 2 halves together. 

I wanted the teapot to look like an old-fashioned boiler with butted joints and double rows of closely spaced wire rivets.
  Riveted copper teapot I cut strips of copper so that I could create the same effect where I joined the 2 halves of the body of the teapot, this time using copper pop rivets. 
  Bits and pieces for the copper teapot Going clockwise from the top left:
  • This is a ring for around the top opening of the teapot, for the lid to fit into.  It's a ring beaten into the mould and soldered to strip.
  • The lid, formed using another epoxy mould in the manual hydraulic press.  This also has a strip soldered to its underside so that it fits in the above ring.
  •  I created the 2 little cups above the lid with a doming tool and then soldered them together to make a ball that I pop-riveted to the lid.
  • 2 collars to fix the handle to the teapot body. 

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