Can someone tell me what a spiculum is?


Dear De De, “Spiculum” according to my Macquarie dictionary is a
zoological term for “a small needle-like body, part, process or
the like.” From the Latin diminutive of spica meaning spike. Hope
this helps, Rex from Oz.

It’s a raised form that looks kind of like a peapod only
rounder, like a big bean. I forget whether it’s syn- or
anti-clastically raised (someone else will probably know, DeDe)
but there you go.

An elongated triangular shaped piece of metal that has been
shaped over a groove in an endgrain wood or plastic shape so as
to bring the sides up to meet and then solder edges together.
This is a simple explanation and you can find out more about it
by looking in Hekki Seppa’s book ‘Form Emphasis for Metalsmiths’,
page 94 and 95. My copy is dated 1978. Louise

G’day; No, but a spEculum is a sort of spatula used by
physicians to control the tongue when throat-peering, and for
certain other rather unmentionable things that aforesaid
physicians do for their jollies.

And a spIcule is a sharply pointed bit of a sponge or a diatom.
Found in the sea and in ponds, and have a n exoskeleton made of
silica. Low lifeforms like some so called humans I could mention
but won’t. 'Cos they’re mostly bigger than me. Cheers,

    / /
   / /
  / /__|\      @John_Burgess2

At sunny Nelson NZ

Can someone tell me what a spiculum is?

A tapered tube.
Most commonly these are made in sizes that resemble a bezel
mandrel, sometimes closed up at the small end to a solid wire
instead of tube. The taper makes it somehow less likely to kink
when you bend it into interesting forms, as well as letting it
easily take tighter bends in the smaller sections than in the
larger diameter parts, which leads semiautomatically to
production of nicely organic flowing forms. Made like tubing,
from a taperd blank of sheet metal, hammered into grooves and
then wrapped around, often just “on air” and soldered shut.
Unlike tube, though, you obviously don’t then draw it down.
It’s all hammer and file work…

Peter Rowe

Hi DeDe, A spiculum is a pointed hollow form, often a double
pointed hollow form . The original pattern would be a
(very)elongated oval. The longer the oval, the longer the
finished pieces. If the oval is too fat or wide it is difficult
to form as the two outer edges need to come togerther to form a
centre seam. A little bit like making tubing. You can also roll
the edges around each other if you dont want to have a centre
seam. there are lots of variations to the form, saw into it, add
sections, etc

The way I form them is to use a channel in a block of wood, and
handmade wooden or delrin hammers to shape the pattern by
hammering on the inside of the form. And then hammering on the
outside carfully to bring the two edges togherter. You need to
be careful not to mark the inside of the metal, and to bring
both outside sides together evenly,so that they can be soldered
as a centre seam Snag used to have a slide set with Michael Good
forming spiculums. I thnik Heppi Seppa might have been the

I use Keum boo on my spiculum before they are formed. This means
there is no room for error in filing off any humps and bumps! It
is a very satisfyiing tecnique. The pieces are very elegant, some
would say dangerous looking, but I find them very sensual. Some
Americans who use this technique are Rachelle Thiewes, Betty
Longhi. I am sure Orchid members will contribute more names.

Felicity… a spiculum lover from way back in sunny Perth West

De De

A spiculum, in metalsmithing terms, is a pod shapeed form “shell
form”. In essence, it is tube that is tapered at either end. The
dimensions and rate of taper can vary, and in reality, one end
can be left open or the form can be left open at the seam.

Heikka Seppa developed a lexicon, vocabulary and codufaction of
this and other shell forming tecniques. They are wonderful
shapes that I often use as a point of departrure.

Hope this helps, Andy Cooperman

DeDe: The term spiculum refers to a shape, and comes from the
Latin meaning little spike. This shape appears in nature,
particularly among the lower forms of life, but it is also used
in metalsmithing to discribe a form or shape which resembles on a
very much smaller scale, a submarine without the appendages. Thus
it can be considered a small hollow tube which tapers to a
"point" at either one or both ends.

Though this form had been used for many centuries, it has more
recently been reintroduced by an outstanding silversmith and
teacher, Heikki Seppa, and it’s description and directions for
forming it are well descibed in his book-“Form Emphasis For
Metalsmiths”. Because of it’s structural strengh, a thin gage
metal can be used, thus enabling forming wearable, light weight

Many disciples of Hekki have adapted his forms and expanded upon
them to create many beautiful pieces. Perhaps the most noteable
among them is a Michael Good, whose work, I sure you have seen
and admired. Hope this helps J.Z.Dule

Yes, they’re nice to make, aren’t they, Felicity.

For my spicula I use a pointed shape, a canoe shape, like a
really flat double cab. Dap into a home-made wooden swage block
as if making tubing. When the sides come around and meet you get
a wonderful closed pointy-ended shape.

Brian in sunny Auckland

A spiculum is a metal shape that is created by working a piece
of metal until it forms a hollow form that is pointed on each end
with a mild u shape and size of a bannana but is more perfect in
deminsions. I do believe that this method and the forming tool
used to produce it was pioneered by Hecky Seppa.

Preston Reuther

A spiculum is a tapered cylinder that is made by hammering. It
can have a soldered seam or not. It can be curved or bent. It
was developed by a Heikki Sepp=E5. Years ago I was fortunate enough
to be in a workshop that he taught. Michael Good(?) was also in
the class and you can check out his adds for gold earrings and
bracelets in Metalsmith.

Marilyn Smith

Hi DeDe: The spiculum is formed over a groove in an endgrain
wood or on a special plastic stake. A cross-peen hammer is used.
One end comes to a point usually, although it can be a double
ended spiculum. It is worked until the sides meet in a seam
which is soldered. The final product can be bent and shaped,
maintaining the ovality. A single ended spiculum could be
compared to a dunce cap. It is not easy to make. The above is a
simplification. To know more about it and other formed
structures, refer to “Form Emphasis For Metalsmiths” by Heikki
Seppa. Frances

I have a question. Is this a die formed shape or a raised or
dished shape? How does one go about getting this shape?


Do you solder your spiculums after applying Keum Boo? If so,
have you any problems with the disintegration?


Stephane in every windy, rainy, sunny San Francisco

Do you solder your spiculums after applying Keum Boo? If so,
have you any problems with the disintegration?

Hi stephane,

yes I solder my spiculums after applying the Keum Boo. I have
learned how to make sure that the keum boo is really very well
fused to the stg silver. I have raised fine silver goblets with
Keum Boo on them, without any problems. ( am just about to start
a course on web page desgin so someday soon they will be

the main thing is to make sure the gold is really well applied
and to double check before forming , by bringing the heat up to
approxinmately the temp of the solder you are using. I would tend
to use hard solder, as I still have ctaches or attachments to
solder on to them. If no bubbles appear then you should be OK. A
few bubbles are not too bad, because you can still press them
down once the soldering is complete.

I solder the spiculum by applying an “excess” of solder near the
tips, one end at a time, and by controlling the heat, I draw the
solder along the seam line. Solder flows toweards the hottest
spot. I usually have to add tiny pieces of solder on top of the
seam in the middle sections… depending on the lenght of the
spiculum. Because my spiculums are always roller printed with
textured paper, or designs in the roller printed silver ( I
don’t like shiny things!) I have to take care because I can’t
file any excess off. Mind you diamond cut burrs and fibre glass
brushes come in handy when mistakes occur!

You do need a steady hand… no red wine the night before!

All this talking about spiculums makes me what to make some!

Felicity in sunny Perth west Oz.

Felicity Peters:

   [snip...] Because my spiculums are  always roller printed
with textured paper, or designs in the roller printed silver (
I don't like shiny things!) I have to take care because I can't
file any excess off. 

Your work sounds wonderful, Felicity! I can’t wait til you send
out some images! Who needs a tutorial in FrontPage? How about you
write up a simple page in a text editor and upload it now:


No just keen.

B r i a n A d a m J e w e l l e r y E y e w e a r
@Brian_Adam1 ph/fx +64 9 817 6816 NEW ZEALAND
http://www.adam.co.nz/2.htm ‘Kids in Specs’