Metalworking – creative forming techniques using copper and steel sheet with Cara Wassenberg

Ref: SSS31357

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1 place available

About this course

Learn various ways of forming, texturing and joining copper and steel sheet. Using organic shapes and textures as inspiration, you will design and create your own three dimensional open sculptural form.

Course Description

This course presents an excellent opportunity to create an eye-catching bowl or three-dimensional open form using copper and/or steel. While developing your design you will also enter the wonderfully expressive world of sheet metal forming and have the chance to explore some of the many ways it can be shaped, textured and joined.

Initially, you will be shown examples of other artists’ work in sheet metal and discuss the merits of the varied approaches. You will be introduced to the workshop equipment and the sheet materials (copper and steel), learn about their different properties and how they can be annealed (softened) and forged, either hot or cold. Following a series of forming, folding and texturing demonstrations, you will have plenty of time for hands on experimentation and may choose to develop certain techniques in more depth. The tutor will give help and advice throughout when needed. Techniques covered will include cutting, filing, hammer/block forming over stakes and mandrels and fold forming, raising, drilling, riveting, spot welding, colouring and finishing. You will also learn how to make simple tools with the mig welder and grinder, which you can use to achieve different textures on your material.

We will take a walk around the West Dean Gardens and using an organic form, texture or similar inspiration as a starting point, you will develop the design of your unique piece through sketches, maybe the making of a simple card model/template and discussions with your tutor. This will lead you on to developing and making your piece.

Aproximate schedule

First evening - Slide show of relevant work from the tutor and other artists. Look at samples/materials. Discussion of the making and design process. Health and safety talk.

Day 1- Workshop introduction. Demonstations and experimentations of different sheet working techniques.

Day 2 - Further demonstrations of techniques and experimentation.

Day 3 - A walk around West Dean gardens looking at textures and organic elements that could be incorporated as part of a design.

Drawing and designing, maquette/model making. Individual discussion with tutor about own projects.

Day 4 - Working on individual projects

Day 5 - As day 4

Day 6 - Finishing projects Group discussion and presentation of projects within the group after lunch.

All abilities, including complete beginners, are welcome. The course does require some physical exertion and a moderate level of fitness is required i.e. to be able to hammer or do up a vice with ease. Most importantly, however, will be a commitment to your project and curiosity about technique and process. The focus of the course is not just about mastering sheet working techniques, but also about how to respond in a creative way to both a design challenge and the material properties of steel and copper, its potential and limitations and maintaining an open mind with regards to the development of your project.

Summer School highlights:

The Summer School week is an immersive learning experience with more time to develop your creativity and embrace opportunities for creative development beyond your chosen course. A detailed timetable for your Summer School week will be given to you on arrival. This will include:

• Short inspirational talks by tutors and displays of their work

• A short creative experience session in another discipline/media or course

• An optional evening at the Chichester Festival Theatre (if pre-booked)

• An optional lunchtime tour of West Dean Gardens, the historic rooms at West Dean College, or West Dean Tapestry Studio

• A celebration dinner on the last evening themed on Impressionism, celebrating the 150th anniversary of the first Impressionist exhibition held in Paris in 1874. Feel free to respond to the theme if you wish.

• Informal end-of-course group reviews and displays of students' work in studios

As evening events are planned as part of the Summer School week, dinner is included in the course fee to enable all students, including non-residents, to participate fully.

Course Materials


  • On this course the College will supply fuel and metal that is stocked by the college and some of the materials, including sheet steel up to approximately 30 cm square of 0.9 mm steel and copper sheet.
  • Leather aprons, welding gauntlets, goggles, welding helmets and ear defenders can be borrowed from the Forge.

What students need to bring

  • Sketchbooks, pencil, phone for recording images
  • Steel toe capped boots to wear in the workshop
  • A long sleeve shirt for welding
  • Thinner gloves, such as site 440 lightweight gripper gloves from Screw fix are very good for sheet metal work
  • You will need to wear clothing suitable for workshop use (together with steel toe capped boots). Please note that cotton or wool clothing is preferable to nylon or other synthetics. Shorts do not provide necessary protection. For your safety, it is mandatory to wear steel toe capped safety boots when undertaking a course in the Forge. You must provide your own footwear and bring them with you to wear on the course. If you fail to bring suitable footwear, you will not be able to take part in the course. Safety boots can be purchased from most tool hire shops and builders’ merchants as well as online.
  • You must wear goggles (provided) and suitable protective clothing for this course. Leather aprons, welding gauntlets, goggles, welding helmets and ear defenders can be borrowed from the Forge or you can bring them along if you have them. If, for example, you have particularly large or small hands, your own leather work gloves are likely to be a better fit.

Available to buy

  • Available from shop:
  • Sketchbooks, pencils
  • Available from tutor:
  • There will be an extra charge for thicker copper sheet (1.2mm) for larger projects, which you will need to purchase from the tutor.

Additional information

Please note: This course will be in the Forge, which is a 10-minute walk from the main house through the walled garden or can be accessed by car. As this course is held in the Forge, morning coffee and afternoon tea will be held in the nearby Carrington Studio. You will return to the main house for lunch. Please note that tutor supervision is always required when you are working in the Forge. Please wear appropriate clothing/aprons for the workshop or studio, this includes stout covered footwear (no sandals or open toes). Without these you will not be able to work in the forge. Long hair must be tied back and minimal jewellery worn.


Timetable for Summer Schools

Several evening events are planned throughout the week, a detailed timetable for the summer schools will be given to you on arrival.

Arrival Day

Residential students to arrive from 4pm, non-residential students to arrive by 6.45pm.

6.45pm: Welcome, followed by dinner (included).

8 - 9pm: First teaching session, attendance is essential.

Daily timetable

Classes 9.15 - 5pm, lunch is included.

From 6.30pm: Dinner (included).

Evening working - students may have access to workshops until 9pm, but only with their tutor's permission and provided any health and safety guidelines are observed.

Last day

Classes 9.15am - 3pm, lunch is included.

Residential students should vacate their rooms by 10am please.

General Information


Cara Wassenberg

Cara Wassenberg is a sculptor with 25 years' experience of working in steel, copper and glass. She trained at University of the Creative Arts, Farnham and teaches part-time on the BA Metalwork course at UCA. She makes sculpture for galleries, exhibitions and to commission.


Residential option available. Find out accommodation costs and how to book here.

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