I was recently commissioned to make a chandelier in the shape of a zeppelin. The client is quite knowledgeable about the old airships and gave me a lot of source material to look at while I worked out a design. Though I was really drawn to the older French dirigibles that were used in the late 1800′s, he was partial to the German Graf and Hindenburg styles from the late 1930′s and so they will be the primary influence on the overall shape of the chandelier.
I am using a technique called die-forming, to get the volumetric shape of the zeppelin. I learned this from my professors Alan Perry and Tim McCreight way back in my undergraduate days. It involves placing a sheet of metal over an open frame and then sinking the sheet into the volume of the frame’s space.
In college, we mostly formed 16 and 18 gage bronze sheet, which can be done cold as long as the metal is annealed. For the chandelier I am using 3/16″ steel and forming it hot. This is the biggest die form I have ever done and it is a serious challenge.