One of the early steps involves cutting the basic leaf shapes out of copper. This was once done by hand, but now accomplished with a CNC plasma table. Plasma cutting uses superheated gases to ‘blow through’ the metal. For the rose leaves, I use 12 oz. copper sheet.
The start of a CNC run
Each leaf is composed of 3 -5 leaflets on a central stem. The CNC allows me to cut this out as a single shape, with copper details as thin as (about) 1/16 “. This would not be possible to do by hand.
A rose 'leaf' is composed of 5 leaflets
The leaf drawings are done in software and stacked together in the CNC program. A bit of experimentation has yielded a process that cuts a whole 3′x5′ sheet in a single session, with a water fed assist on the plasma torch to keep the copper cool, minimize distortion, and leave a cleaner edge on the cut metal.
A water feed allows finer detail and minimizes distortion from the heat
The goal of the run is to have as many succesful cuts as possible. Errors can lead to unused copper and wasted time. This run had over 100 leaves, with 5 that were not succesful. I have not had a large run like this go 100% good, though one time I came close with only 1 lost leaf.
A finished sheet. A few of the leaves on this one were lost.