My New Bench

Silversmiths Bench

I’ve been rearranging the workshop this week to make room my new jewellers bench. I bought the bench from a jeweller who was retiring after 40 years of jewellery making.  Since this was a piece of furniture I was going to be spending a lot of time sitting at I needed to make sure it would be perfect. I had looked into buying a new bench but they seemed a bit light and I wanted a bench that I could happily cut, hammer and solder at without fear of collapse! So when I found this bench that had been in use for 20 years I knew it could withstand the stresses of life in a busy silversmiths workshop.

The height of the bench is extremely important. The bench needs to be high enough so you can have the jewellery you are making at the correct eye level. Also since I spend much of my day sitting at the bench it needs to be high enough so I am not hunched over the bench doing damage to my back.

What makes a jewellers bench different from any other workbench is the semi circle cut out in the middle. This is to ensure you can sit close to the work and with a bench skin or tray it allows you to collects scrap. I find it really handy when working on tiny components, if you drop one it will more than likely fall in to your bench tray.

Bench Peg

Unfortunately there was one casualty from the move, my bench peg snapped while I was trying to remove it, so I’ll have to make another one. It was on its last legs as it has been cut and drilled into one too many times so it was nearing retirement.

I’m loving working on the new bench, all my favourite tools have found their homes as the previous owner has left the handy clips and hooks for the pliers, soldering torch and piercing frame.

Jewellers Tools

 

Time flies when you’re busy in the workshop!

I’ve neglected the blog for a few weeks as I’ve been busy in the workshop designing commission pieces and making a new range of jewellery. So I’ve missed out on talking about lots of great things that have been happening in the silversmithing and jewellery world.

One event that I always like writing about is Goldsmiths Fair which takes place in London every year. The show runs for two weeks with a different group of makers exhibiting each week.

So I thought I’d share a few pictures from one of the award winners and discuss the awards that were presented over the two week show.

The first week the “Best New Design Award” was presented to Max Warren. Peter Ting presented the award. It was lovely to see his name involved with Goldsmiths Fair. Peter was a guest lecturer in the art college I attended and was the person who introduced me to the work of lots of great makers.

I’ve tried to find some good images of Max’s work but unfortunately none of them do the work justice. His pieces are created using traditional silversmithing techniques and uses hand engraving to amazing effect to create a play on light and shade. using different cuts he engraves an image into the silver which alters as the light catches it from different angles. Now you understand why it doesn’t lend itself to being photographed!

Jacqueline Gestetner judged the award for week two and presented the prize to Adi Toch. I discussed Adi work last year. She creates these amazing forms which work are not only beautiful but very functional.

The bulbous vessels are just calling to be picked up and used. I love her salt pots because they are so brilliantly functional. If they are knocked over none of the salt will spill out.

Adi Toch

Pinch-of-Salt-Adi-Toch

 

 

Utensil, Current Approaches to Tableware

I visited the National Craft Gallery before I went on holidays to see the Utensil exhibition. The exhibition was being held as part of Kilkenny Arts Festival and was curated by Angela O’ Kelly.

As you will know from reading this blog I love to see the work of other silversmiths, unfortunately in Ireland there a few practicing silversmiths so the opportunity to visit exhibitions of contemporary silver work is rare.

That’s why I was so excited when I saw the line up for the Utensil exhibition, it had gathered together an amazing list of makers including some silversmiths from both Ireland and abroad. I had seen some of these silversmiths exhibit in London over the years but it was great to see this work in the lovely setting of the National Craft Gallery.

I was anxious to go along on the first Saturday of the show as the curator Angela O’ Kelly was giving a talk, going through the various makers and the inspiration behind their work. As the exhibition was made up of artists working in a variety of mediums and emerging Irish makers I really wanted to find out more about the work and of course Angela’s thoughts when curating the show.  The great thing about the show was how it combined product designers and makers in a variety of  disciplines. This for me really reinforced the theme of the exhibition seeing how each maker responded to the idea of  tableware and the ceremony of eating.

David Clarke Spoons

One of my favourite silversmiths David Clarke had his display of spoons there, I first saw his work when I was in college many years ago and have loved how his approach to silver has changed from his perfectly balanced silver fruit displays to these refashioned old spoons and teasets.

As well as giving us these beautiful objects to look at the show allows us examine our own relationship to the utensils we use, whether they be sentimental, decorative or functional.

The exhibition runs until the 29th of October so you have plenty of time to go along and see these beautiful pieces for yourself.

 

Geoffrey Mann

Geoffrey Mann’s Crossfire work in ceramic and glass. The video accompanying the work shows the vibrations of an argument (an audio excerpt from the film American Beauty) altering, melting and changing the inanimate objects on the table.

 

Chien-Wei Chang

Chien-Wei Chang goblets, Martini, wine and Champagne flute…I’d happily sip my drinks from any of these!

Sharon Blakey & Ismini Samanidou

Sharon Blakey and Ismini Samanidou’s gorgeous collaboration of textiles and ceramics.

 

Maike Dahl

 

Maike Dahl

Maike Dahl’s extremely thin silver forms which are influenced by take away disposable containers.

 

Debbie Wijskamp

Debbis Wijskamp vibrantly colour paper forms.