Home Workshops Artist Gallery Vessels Gardens Jewelry Contact


Shell Forming Metal
with Betty Helen Longhi

Betty Helen Longhi has spent the last twenty five years exploring the possibilities of shell forming
in her jewelry and sculpture. She shows her work nationally and has taught all over the United
States including Penland and Haystack.
She is now offering a special opportunity for small groups of students to work in her personal studio
and stay at her lakeside home in North Carolina.
These unique workshops will combine close personal attention, optimal equipment and the
opportunity of pursuing a very individual course of study in a beautiful vacation setting.

Shell forming is a wonderful way to create three dimensional structures for jewelry and sculpture
from flat sheet metal. Using one hard tool, usually a hammer, and one resilient tool,
a wood or plastic form, one can rapidly form sheet metal into desired shapes.
Students will explore the fundamentals of sheet metal behavior and gain an understanding of the relationship between technique, tools and resulting forms.
Specific techniques will include synclastic sinking, anticlastic raising and methods to make
transitions from one form to another resulting in more complex structures.
Emphasis is on the great potential for forming which can be accomplished using a minimum of tools.

To see a video of Betty Helen demonstrating this process,

For additional information, brochures and costs:
email: bhl@fluidformsinmetal.com
or call: 336-798-5725

For current workshop schedule scroll down

Betty Helen Longhi - Workshop Schedule 2014

Creative Metal Forming - Workshop Series

Betty Helen Longhi and Cynthia Eid have co-authored the book, Creative Metal Forming, a comprehensive text that covers a wide range of forming techniques including Synclasting, Anticlasting, Spiculums and Transitions as well as raising and decking (a process for soldering together two or more formed pieces of metal to create a hollow object). To accompany the book, Betty Helen Longhi is offering a series of workshops that will address some of the more important subjects in the book. The workshops will be three days in length and offered once a month from January to April. Each workshop will relate to one or two chapters in the book. By doing the exercises in each chapter, students will gain an understanding of the relationship between technique, tools and resulting forms. Using one hard tool, usually a hammer, and one resilient tool, a wood or plastic stake, one can rapidly form flat sheet metal into three-dimensional forms. These skills will be applicable to making both jewelry and sculpture. There will be opportunity to use the forming exercises to make a few finished pieces.

The workshops will be held at the Sawtooth School for Visual Arts
251 N. Spruce Street, Winston-Salem, North Carolina, 27101; 336-723-7395
Contact: Sarah Stine www.sawtooth.org

Cost of individual workshops: $425
There is a discount of $100 to purchase the entire series at once.
We anticipate a strong response to these workshops so we encourage interested students
to lock in their space by taking advantage of this offer.


Workshop #1 Synclastic Forming - January 24 to 26 2014

Synclastic Forming is a way to make a domed form from a flat sheet of metal. The metal is hammered into a depression (usually in a piece of wood). This workshop will cover all aspects of Synclastic Forming including forming a disk by dapping, making a domed bracelet, making asymmetric forms that could be used for brooches or earrings, making fluted forms and making beads. The student will come away with a good understanding of how to hammer and how to determine the correct tools to make the desired form.

This workshop is appropriate for both beginners and experienced metalsmiths but it is preferable to have had a basic course in metalworking.


Workshop #2 Anticlastic Forming - February 21 to 23 2014

Definition of an Anticlastic Form

An anticlastic form is a single sheet of metal whose axes are oriented in opposite directions. Common anticlastic forms are a saddle and the pass between two mountains. An anticlastic form cannot hold water, no matter how it is oriented.

An Anticlastic form is made by hammering metal sheet over a wood, plastic or metal stake that has an anticlastic surface in the appropriate size for the metal. This workshop will cover techniques for making a series of anticlastic forms; These techniques can be used to make bracelets, pins and earrings, as well as exciting sculptural forms. As in the first workshop, The student will come away with a good understanding of how to hammer, as well as gain an understanding of what tools are appropriate for the process.

This workshop is appropriate for both beginners and experienced metalsmiths but it is preferable to have had a basic course in metalworking.


Workshop #3 Transitions, Torquing, and Multi Shells – March 21 to 23 2014

Transitions are ways to move from a synclastic to an anticlastic form in the same piece of metal. There are several methods of making transitions and each one makes the finished form much more interesting. Torquing is another way to alter a form and make it more complex. Torquing means to twist the initial form. All of these changes make more interesting earrings, pendants, bracelets and sculptural objects.

A multi Shell is a form resulting from soldering two or more forms together to make a hollow structure.

In this course we will be making a bi-Shell. You'll choose a transition or torqued sample from the first part of the workshop to be the primary form, which is usually the deepest or most complex portion of the object. Then the deck, or secondary form, is created to fit against the open edges of the primary form and the two are soldered together. This is an excellent way to make hollow rings and bracelets as well as vases, teapots, and sculptures.

This workshop is appropriate for both beginners and experienced metalsmiths but it is preferable to have had a basic course in metalworking. In addition, some prior experience in shell forming is preferred.


Workshop #4 Spiculums - April 11 to 13 2014

A spiculum is a tapered tube made from a flat sheet of metal. In this book we discuss three ways to make a spiculum: a straight spiculum is made by a process similar to tube making; an open seam spiculum is made by anticlasting the metal before it is closed into a tube; a synclastic spiculum is made by synclasting the metal before closing it into a tube. Each has it’s own uses, advantages, and disadvantages.

In this class, we will make each of the types of spiculums, as well as a variation that creates an undulating seam line. We will also experiment with making spiculums that combine both synclastic and anticlastic methods to create a more complex form. In this new arena, there are endless possibilities for making bracelets, collars, earrings, beads, vessels and abstract sculptural forms.

This workshop is appropriate for both beginners and experienced metalsmiths but it is preferable to have had a basic course in metalworking.


Other Workshops


A Fresh look at Spiculums
May 9 to 11 2014
Hyde Park Art Studio – Tampa, FL
Jeanne Paul – 813-956-6573


Get Away Workshops 2014

Go to the beginning of the workshop section for information about these workshops. For those interested in my 2014 workshops please contact me by email and I will send you a more detailed description including estimated costs. If after receiving this information, you are definitely interested in attending a 2014 workshop, please contact me and I will put you on my mailing list. The dates are listed below but registration for the workshops is not open. Due to the demand, everyone who has indicated an interest in the 2014 workshops will be notified at the same time as to what day and what hour the registration will open. The usual time is early January. When the registration time arrives it will be by first come first served. The ones that are on the 2014 list are the only ones that will be contacted so be sure your name is on that list.

Current Dates

May 25 to 31 2014 and June 15 to 21 2014



Betty Helen Longhi at bhl@fluidformsinmetal.com for further information.


Creating by Forming Metal

Detailed Course Description

Shell forming is a technique for forming sheet metal into three-dimensional structures.
The process requires the use of one hard metal tool (either a hammer or a stake) and one resilient tool (either a plastic or wood mallet or a plastic or wood stake). Using these conditions the metal can be formed quickly into strong fluid shapes.
The process is appropriate for any size work from small jewelry to large sculpture.

This workshop will cover the following:
1. basic hammering techniques
2. how to control the hammer blows
3. how to choose the appropriate hammer to achieve the desired result
4. how to select or make the appropriate stake to work on
Students will experiment with making synclastic and anticlastic forms and creating transitions from
one to the other. Multiple ways of manipulating the surface of the metal will be demonstrated
as well as the process for making a spiculum and for decking a form to create a hollow structure.

Also included will be discussions on how to:
1. Quickly make stakes from wood and plastic and a discussion of other appropriate materials
2. Refinish or remake hammers from “Flea Market finds”
3. Make patterns for shell forming designs

The student will leave with a basic understanding of how sheet metal can be worked,
how the tools relate to the end product
and how to translate this knowledge into their own aesthetic to use in whatever way they wish.

Betty Helen Longhi

Betty Helen Longhi

Betty Helen Longhi is a nationally recognized metalsmith who has worked extensively with forming metal for jewelry and sculpture. She attended the University of Wisconsin and Cranbrook Academy of Art and has studied with Heikki Seppa and Michael Good. Ms. Longhi has given numerous workshops both in the United States and Canada including Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, Parsons School of Design, Arrowmont, Peters Valley Craft Center and Penland School. She has been a guest artist at the University of Wisconsin and Maryland Institute of Art. Additionally, she has written a number of articles and reviews for Metalsmith magazine and has lectured on shell forming for the Society of North American Goldsmiths.

top of page

© 2005 Betty Helen Longhi

908 Design.com